Brexit: an industry perspective — Tim Balcon, IEMA

Many environment and sustainability professionals believe that membership of the EU provides significant benefits, says Tim Balcon.

In or out? How people vote at the EU referendum next month will very much depend on how leaving Europe will impact upon their central areas of concern. For some that will be immigration, for others the future of the NHS will influence their vote. For the professionals IEMA represents, the implications for environment and climate policy are likely to be a deciding factor.

When we asked the UK’s environment and sustainability professionals about different aspects of UK and EU environmental policy during the last month, an overwhelming majority believe the UK has benefited from relevant EU policy. More than 80% agree that operating within the EU provides a policy landscape that is more stable and therefore potentially more effective for businesses and the environment.

Interestingly, the profession is largely of the view that the UK’s position and reputation as an international leader on environment, energy, climate and sustainability issues is bolstered by membership of the EU. From our 1500 poll respondents, 78% believe that the UK is influential in the development of EU environment and climate policy; 82% said that being part of the EU gives the UK more international clout, with the ability to exert greater international influence on environmental outcomes by working within the EU block of 28 countries.

While these statistics are not reflective of how these professionals will vote, or how they feel about any other from the myriad of issues to consider at the polls, they do show that this profession wants certainty and frameworks that work, regardless of what happens after 23 June.

For environment and sustainability professionals, policy certainty is a real enabler of investment for long term improvement programmes. Whichever way the vote goes, this profession says maintaining long-term policy stability for environment and climate change is crucial.

Tim Balcon is CEO of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), a worldwide membership body for environment and sustainability professionals, driving global standards for sustainable practice.