The UK’s climate change watchdog may have to bite its lip under the government’s new post-Brexit environmental protection regime, its chief executive has warned.

Chris Stark, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) was quizzed by the House of Commons environmental audit select committee on Wednesday (6 February) about how its work would be affected by the establishment of the Office of Environmental Protection (OEP).

The government is planning to set up the OEP to take over the European Commission’s current remit for enforcing the EU’s environmental rules, which the government has pledged to abide by under the withdrawal deal currently being debated by parliament.

But Stark expressed concerns that the CCC may have to be more careful about the advice that it offers to the government about progress on tackling greenhouse gas emissions if this can be used as a trigger point for court action by the new body.

“It changes the nature of the advice we offer, the beauty of the CCC is that we are able to tell government it is off track,

“We would be more cautious in our advice if we knew it could be a trigger point for the OEP. We are currently free to be quite blunt with government.”

He added that if the OEP tried to enforce anticipated government breaches of the UK’s climate change targets, the body would have to make its own independent assessment of whether they are likely to be met.

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