Tag Archives: US

Talks about talks

The Durban climate summit produced a surprise (or at least a surprise for natural pessimists like me…). A consensus agreement has been reached to open a new phase of negotiations, to be finished by 2015 at the latest, with targets for all countries kicking in from 2020. Given initial positions of the most powerful actors, this outcome looks Continue reading


Filed under China, Durban, US

Go figure

David Wheeler at the Washington DC based thinktank Center for Global Development says that the number of Americans affected by extreme weather events has skyrocketed from fewer than 10,000 a year in 1980 to over 2 million a year by 2008. The graph compares the rate (per 100,000 Americans) of being affected by violent weather events (the orange line) and the trend for violent crime (the dotted black line).

Some people think that it’s trends like this that will drive climate change up to the top of the political agenda. What does Gallup say?

As they say Stateside, go figure….

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Filed under Climate disasters, Public opinion, US

A climate of populism?

A little while back Andrew picked up on an FT piece warning that technocratic elites should take notice of the possibility of  a populist backlash. The current issue of Foreign Affairs (behind paywall) contains a couple of excellent analyses that drill further down into this theme, and carry some important implications for climate policy.

Walter Russell Mead places the American Tea Party  movement in historical context, and explores the challenges it poses to US policy makers trying to follow a liberal internationalist agenda. He identifies the Tea Partyers as latter-day “Jacksonian” populists, named after the original 19th C populist President Andrew Jackson (no, not that Jackson!). As Mead explains: Continue reading


Filed under China, Climate deniers, Populism, US

Why Is A US Climate Bill So Elusive?

According to at least one US commentator, Senate climate and energy legislation is now as dead as the parrot in Monty Python’s famous sketch. Without rehearsing the possible scenarios for introducing the bill at a later stage or the ins-and-outs of ‘lame duck sessions‘ and their possible voting scenarios, why is even such an apparently lame climate change bill so difficult to pass in the US?

Some of course blame it’s very lameness and the Democrat leadership’s unwillingness to push hard on the issue of climate itself. Others are dancing on the bill’s grave, arguing that putting cap and trade at its heart was a fatal flaw. And a further phalanx of pro-climate action views direct their anger at the ‘moral cowards‘ defending ‘narrow electoral interests’ in the Senate. Continue reading

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Filed under Cap and trade

Climate Policy Crisis

US and Australian shelves are suddenly straining under the weight of planned climate change policies. In the space of a few days, American Democrats appear to have put climate and energy legislation on hold in favour of a Senate bill on immigration and Rudd’s government down under has unequivocally placed its proposed cap and trade scheme in political storage.

Behind both of these decisions is a complex set of national, political circumstances. In the case of the US it’s clear that Democrats have spotted electoral gain in forcing the Republicans’ hand on immigration and also significant risk in not doing so. As a result, climate and energy may have to wait; the political cost being the probable loss of the support of Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

The case of Australia is perhaps more complex still but also all about the politics. Continue reading

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Feeling the Stones

Deng Xiaoping (pictured) famously advocated a pragmatic approach to progress. ‘Cross the river by feeling the stones‘ he said. Is this cautious view of change in any way compatible with the measures needed to decarbonise economies?

We ask this because there is quite clearly a significant gap between the positions of the US and China in relation to the Copenhagen Accord. There’s a fair amount of debate concerning the semantics of the language of association or support. Continue reading

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