In voting to exit the European Union, the United Kingdom may also have voted to take a step back from the reality of climate change. In one of her first acts as Prime Minister, Theresa May dissolved the national Department for Energy and Climate Change and repackaged climate change policy into the new Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. This follows May’s appointment of Andrea Leadsom, an industry friendly climate skeptic, as Environmental Minister.

UK climate change, UK climate change skeptics, UK climate change denial

Scientists, environmentalists and many elected officials are not pleased with the new turn that the post-Brexit United Kingdom has taken. “Climate change is the biggest challenge we face, and it must not be an afterthought for the Government,” says Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. The recent climate policy decisions “show a lack of understanding posed by climate change to the UK and the world,” says Greenpeace Executive Director John Sauven. “If we are to continue to have a key global role in environmental action, we need urgent reassurance from the new government that the hard won progress on climate and renewables targets, air pollution and the protection of wildlife will not be sidelined or abandoned in the Brexit negotiations.”

Related: UK’s Brexit vote could reverse environmental protections and contribute to climate change

The UK government’s apparent loss of interest in climate change is a stark contrast to recent progressive policy decisions. In 2008, Parliament passed a Climate Change Act that committed the UK to an 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The UK was also one of 178 countries that signed the Paris Agreement, further cementing its commitment to climate change action. The unexpected outcome of the Brexit vote should serve as a warning to the United States. If the American electorate makes a similar decision in November, it would empower climate skeptics and industry politicians to dismantle the progress that has been made by the Obama Administration.

Via the Independent

Images via UK Home Office and Matt Brown