By the slimmest of margins, the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union. The controversial move—widely called ‘Brexit,’ short for British exit—kicked off a series of troubling events. Stock markets crashed and Prime Minister David Cameron announced he will resign before October. The ramifications of the UK’s departure from the EU will be widespread, including potentially devastating setbacks for environmental initiatives.

Leading up to the in-out referendum, the UK’s efforts to advance environmental protections had slowed. Now, concerns are increasing over the country’s future commitments to cutting pollution and combatting climate change. Also unknown is the future leadership’s stance on protective measures for wildlife, support for agriculture, and investments in renewable energy. Recently, the UK has been making significant progress in green energy, particularly in the solar power industry which produced 50 percent more energy last month than the country’s coal power plants.

Related: UK solar power outshined coal power plants for the entire month of May

For months, Cameron had urged against leaving the EU, and predictions had called Brexit an unlikely outcome. Yet, supporters of the political breakup won 52 percent to 48 percent, despite London, Scotland and Northern Ireland voting to ‘Remain’ in the EU. In the early stages of the financial fallout after the votes were tallied, analysts warn that investments in green energy will decline, slowing what was previously a fast-growing sector of the UK economy.

Additionally, Ukip leader Nigel Farage—perhaps the most vocal politician forcing the referendum—is an unapologetic climate denier and has said on numerous occasions that his agenda includes “scrapping” limitations on pollution from power stations. Conservative measures in that vein would only work to undo the hard work Britain has done in recent years to clean up the environment, limit carbon emissions, and reduce its contribution to climate change.

Via The Guardian

Lead image via Shutterstock