An environmental think tank has warned that the UK risks undermining the low-carbon sector of its economy if it lowers its standards to trade with the United States and China instead of the European Union (EU).

The Green Alliance said the UK faces a “binary choice” of aligning itself with the EU or with China and the US.

The UK’s trade in low-carbon goods and services with the EU is a third higher than its trade with the rest of the world, the report said.

It pointed out that the automotive sector makes up 60% of low-carbon goods exports because one-in-five electric cars sold in Europe are made in the UK.

‘Lucrative’ low-carbon trade

Chaitanya Kumar, Senior Policy Adviser at the Green Alliance, said: “The government’s current approach to trade risks undercutting its own clean growth strategy, which aims to build a thriving low-carbon economy in the UK.

“Alignment to make low-carbon trade with the EU as simple as possible will be central to achieving that goal.

“Lowering environmental standards to strike deals with trading partners beyond the EU would be counterproductive, as we would lose out on more immediately lucrative trade with Europe.”

> Download the Green Alliance's report