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Category Archives: Democracy & Citizenship

Too hot to handle? The Renewable Heat Incentive scheme & the Northern Irish meltdown

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Since December, Northern Ireland has been bogged down in a major scandal on an apparently simple policy instrument – the renewable heat incentive scheme. The scheme, closed in early 2016, was set up in 2012 to encourage renewable heat uptake. Since then, it has generated a massive overspend (more than £1bn UK public money, £600 […]

Nature Directives ‘Fit for Purpose’: a turning point for EU policy dismantling?

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The 28 EU Commissioners met today to decide the fate of the EU’s Nature Directives (the 1979 Birds Directive and 1992 Habitats Directive). Would these two directives, the cornerstone of EU biodiversity legislation, be deemed ‘fit for purpose’ or would they be revised and potentially weakened? After years of internal debates within the European Commission, […]

Donald Trump v. The Environment: learning from past attempts to dismantle environmental policy

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A week after the Paris Agreement entered into force, the United States have elected Donald J. Trump as their 45th President – a man who famously described climate change as “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” His stance on climate change, his strong support for coal and pledge […]

Heathrow expansion in the shadow of Brexit

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After decades of debate on where – and whether – to expand airport capacity in south-eastern England, the UK government announced two days ago that it would favour building a third runway at Heathrow Airport. This option, highly criticised on environmental grounds (notably due to the air pollution caused by road transport to the airport) […]

Is the EU as green as it used to be?

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With the referendum on UK EU membership fast approaching, both the Leave and Remain campaigns have put forward their views on the future of environmental policy in the UK and its relationship with the EU. This political debate raises a number of questions:  how green is the European Union; how effective or in some cases […]

Why the environment matters in the British EU Referendum debate

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Monday 11 April saw the launch of an impartial and independent review: the EU referendum and the UK environment. Authored by 14 international experts – and led by the three of us – this review draws on the findings of over 700 publications to investigate how has EU membership affected the UK and what might […]

Exploring the Impacts of Austerity on Environmental Policy

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Following the financial crisis of 2007/2008 and initial attempts to stimulate the economy through increased government spending, austerity has become a dominant narrative in many developed nations. Government spending has been significantly reduced in a number of European countries, as part of efforts to reduce both public deficits and debts. After several years of such […]

Empowering the European Parliament: a greener, more European way out of the European crises?

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Of the four main European Institutions,[1] the European Parliament (EP) has most struggled to be heard on the recent crises affecting Europe (monetary, economic, social, environmental…).[2] At a time when the European project is at great risk, and when European leaders struggle to define a common European interest, it is perhaps time to turn to […]

Theoretical Theatre: An innovative teaching method for EU Studies

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The European Union has an image problem. The “permissive consensus”[1] (aka non-informed consent) that supported European integration up to the early 1990s is long gone, and the image of “the European construction” as a guarantee of peace is no longer sufficient. Even the last European Commission thought a “new narrative for Europe” was required. Of […]

What has the EU ever done for the UK environment?

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In Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Reg, a character played by John Cleese, famously asks what the Romans have ever done for the people of Judaea. That no one had asked this question before may have been because Roman rule had become taken for granted. But after a moment’s reflection, his fellow freedom fighters quickly […]

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