On the day the Green Party launches its Remain campaign for the European Union (EU) referendum, a poll that appears to show environmental professionals overwhelmingly support membership of the politico-economic bloc has been published. However, the statistics behind the poll are seriously flawed.
The survey, published by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), appears to reveal environmental professionals “are set to overwhelmingly reject the case for Brexit in the upcoming EU referendum”, reports BusinessGreen.
The poll claimed 93 per cent support for the proposition that “EU environmental legislation has been beneficial to the UK’s natural environment” (less than two per cent said it has “not been beneficial”). This comes as little surprise from an organisation of professionals forming part of the green lobby which allegedly caused higher energy prices and exacerbated seasonal flooding.
In the latest ‘Project Fear’ move, the poll showed environmental professionals saying a Brexit would have “significant negative impacts upon” (among others):
- Protection of certain wildlife species (90 per cent)
- Protection of the natural environment for its environmental benefits (89 per cent)
- Improved water quality and the recovery of freshwater fish populations (77 per cent)
- Recovery of marine fisheries (74 per cent)
- Improvements in air quality (70 per cent)
It is unclear how the CIEEM thinks the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy will now reverse the decline of European fish stocks after decades of failure to do so.
In a stark display of economic self-interest the poll also showed concern over a “loss of access to EU environmental funding for key green initiatives and the ability to deliver co-ordinated climate policies across Europe.”
However, for a group of professionals who ought to pride themselves on scientific rigour the polling method leaves much to be desired. The survey of the CIEEM’s 4,540 members took place between 21 December 2015 and 31 January 2016. In that time there were just 841 respondents, representing a self-selecting response rate of a mere 18.5 per cent. It does not appear to be a professionally conducted poll of opinion, but rather a snapshot of a politically-motivated minority within the organisation.
Even the report from GreenBusiness reveals the underlying biases of the survey.
It concedes that “some Brexit campaigners, such as London Mayoral candidate and environmental campaigner Zac Goldsmith, have argued leaving the EU would not result in the UK watering down its green policies”, but adds ominously “the campaign is also backed by notable climate sceptics and some commentators have suggested the UK could reduce energy bills if it left the EU, hinting they could scrap renewable energy and carbon targets.”
The Green Party Member of the European Parliament for the South East, Keith Taylor, said the report offers a “welcome reflection of the overwhelming support amongst environmental experts for the UK’s continued membership of the EU” and reinforces “the recognition that a UK outside the EU would have disastrous consequences for our natural environment and the protection of British wildlife.”
He added, once again revealing his preference along with the rest of the green lobby for higher energy prices and onerous environmental regulation:
“This is incredibly important as the government continues to drop some heavy hints about what would happen to our environmental rules if we quit the EU. Ministers are trying their best to water down air pollution rules, the Chancellor believes the EU nature laws place ‘ridiculous costs’ on British firms and, most worryingly of all, the government is vigorously stripping away support for clean energy and renewable technology in the UK.”