Global Britain may mean more global warming. Long distance trade means more CO2 emissions than buying and selling locally.
The attempt to defy defy geography in UK trade policy is hard to reconcile with the Johnson government’s other global goal… which is to give a lead to the world on combating climate change, by cutting CO2 emissions, which the UK hopes will be agreed at the big conference it is hosting in Glasgow later this year.
One of goals of Boris Johnson’s government is to see the UK play an independent role in the world, reminiscent of its position a century ago, when the UK was seen as a global player, rather than as merely a European power.
Brexit provides the UK with the necessary independence, both psychological and legal. Its ability of to make its own trade agreement adds an economic dimension to this quest for global relevance. The fact that the first trade agreements the UK has negotiated are with faraway Australia and New Zealand underlines the global dimension.
But there is a snag.
Having rejected membership of the EU Customs Union, the UK is now applying to join something called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for a Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). CPTPP’s members include Japan, Vietnam, Peru, Chile, Mexico as well as Australia and New Zealand…..all countries that border on the Pacific. Replacing trade with the EU with trade with these countries will mean more pollution.
Apart from Pitcairn Island and its few hundred inhabitants, no UK territory borders the Pacific.
It is impossible to reconcile the UK government plans to shift its trade to the Pacific with its plans to combat climate change.
Replacing trade with nearby EU countries, like Ireland and France, with trade with distant Pacific countries, like Australia, Japan, Vietnam and New Zealand , will increase the overall UK contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, through the inevitable extra CO2 emissions from long distance shipping and refrigeration.
The longer the shipping route, the more will be the CO2 emissions. Ships use the dirtiest of fuels. Global shipping already generates as much CO2 as 205 million cars.
Refrigeration on long sea journeys adds to emissions.
If it is, for example, UK trade policy to import dairy or livestock products from New Zealand , rather than from Ireland or France , this will add dramatically to the damage done by trade policy to the world’s climate.
The EU needs to point out this contradiction in UK policies to the participants in the Glasgow Climate change conference