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The Impact of Brexit on the UK and Devolved Energy System


Citation Cairney, P., Munro, F., McHarg, A., McEwen, N., Turner, K. and Katris, A. The Impact of Brexit on the UK and Devolved Energy System. 2019.
Author(s) Cairney, P., Munro, F., McHarg, A., McEwen, N., Turner, K. and Katris, A.
Download UKERC_Impact_of_Brexit_on_UK_and_Devolved_Energy_System.pdf document type
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Abstract

This briefing paper uses the example of a changing UK/Scottish government relationship after Brexit to demonstratehow to analyse the role of politics and policymaking in the transformation of energy systems.


Brexit will create a new division of policymaking responsibilities between EU, UK, and devolved governments.


In this paper we divide energy policy competences according to levels of government. Initially, it suggests that we cangenerate a clear picture of multi-level policymaking. However, the formal allocation of competences only tells a partialstory, because actual powers may operate differently from the strict legal picture. These blurry boundaries betweenresponsibilities may be further complicated by Brexit, even if it looks like the removal of a layer of government willsimplify matters.Instead of imagining clearlines of accountability,think of energy policy as part of a complex policymaking system in which the link between powers, practices, and outcomes is unclear and an energy system, in which government isonly one of many influences on outcomes.

Key findings

  • Brexit could have a major impact on UK energy policymaking, but its likely effect remains unclear.
  • We can predict major changes to formal policymaking responsibilities. There is less certainty of the policies that may
    arise from EU, UK, and devolved governments.
  • The law is only one aspect of policy, and policy is only one influence on energy system outcomes.
  • Systems thinking helps inform discussions of, for example, the impact of Brexit on the transition to a low carbon
    energy system.
  • However, terms suchas energy systems will only be useful when researchers and practitioners clarify their meaning and identify the role of policy in their transition.