by Juliana Kenny
Well before the U.K. voted to leave the E.U. last week, environmentalists and climate scientists were warning of the fallout for climate efforts should the country vote “leave”. Here, Blouin News provides a brief overview of the leading concerns among the environmental preservation community following the outcome of the Brexit referendum:
The National Geographic quotes Myles Allen of the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute noting a top worry for scientists:
My main concern in the big picture is potential damage to the U.K.’s reputation as a destination for top-flight researchers. Researchers put a lot of emphasis on the ability to recruit and ability to travel, and if these changes affect our ability to recruit the best and brightest of the world’s academics, then we’re in trouble.
The same concern can be applied to technologists in the U.K. who were hoping to elevate the country’s status as a major global player in tech. Many fear that the U.K.’s clean tech and green markets will suffer economically in addition to talent-wise with its departure from the E.U. (Note that the green economy in the U.K. has been steadily developing and the country has been paving the way for clean tech in vehicles.) The uncertainty as to how these markets will continue to build out runs deep.
Overall, the U.K. has been an arbiter of the E.U.’s environmental efforts and initiatives to stem climate change, raising the question: Will Europe’s global participation to cut greenhouse gas emissions weaken with the U.K. gone?
The Washington Post quotes Bob Ward, policy and communications director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science:
The UK has generally argued for stronger action on emissions within the EU, so its absence will make it more difficult to counter the arguments of those Member States, such as Poland, which want slower and weaker cuts in emissions.
Efforts to produce substantive climate policy, drive forward clean tech projects, and keep climate-based issues on the table may well fall by the wayside, overshadowed by broad economic questions.
Finally, there is the disconcerting fact that Nigel Farage, the U.K. Independence Party’s head and a premiere pusher for the referendum last week, has been a public climate change skeptic, and general denier of global warming’s impact on the U.K. His skepticism reflects data published by The Guardian in mid-June that shows that Brexit supporters are twice as likely to disbelieve in manmade climate change.
Clearly, the concerns are many and varied for climate preservation supporters, and answers are not likely to arise soon.