Monthly Archives: May 2011

Eat the Rich

We’ve argued before on this blog that taxing wealth is a defensible approach to raising revenue for vital climate change adaptation. It’s also a potential source of capital to finance investment in the low-carbon economy.

The city of Leipzig has been playing host to the International Transport Forum’s annual summit whose background paper this year focuses on the challenge of meeting the travel needs of a future world population of 9 billion.

This graphic showing the distribution across different income groups of vehicle use in the US caught the eye of a colleague to whom I sent the paper:

It tells two stories. Continue reading



Filed under Uncategorized

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….

1 Comment

Filed under Climate disasters, Public opinion, US

The Battle of the 4th Budget

So, the epic battle in the UK over the Fourth Carbon Budget (2023-2027) is now over and the dust is settling. The issue was whether to approve the Climate Change Committee’s recommendation that carbon emissions be effectively reduced to 50% of 1990 levels by the end of the period, with big implications for long-term investments, especially in the power sector.

And this was a real battle, Continue reading


Filed under Climate policies, UK politics

Framing the Debate on Climate Change

Okay, so it’s not all about how to ‘frame’ climate change to make it more acceptable; the substance of policy matters. For instance, the unfolding debacle in the UK concerning how it meets its carbon targets and whether a renewable energy target is helpful in this regard or a hindrance is not a matter of framing but of raw policy. The debate is however playing out in a political context that could quite easily lead to support for existing policy ebbing away. So as well as addressing the policy challenges, we need to pay close attention to how people are engaged in the debate; if there was a broad concensus on the issue then backsliding would not be an option and progress would be easier (to state the obvious). Continue reading


Filed under Uncategorized

The blogger’s dilemma

A couple of weeks ago, we saw an interesting comment piece by David Roberts on Grist, over across the pond. The starting point for Roberts’ piece is a new report called Climate Shift, which claims to slay some sacred cows amongst US environmentalists (with views such as: the media’s actually pretty balanced, pro-Climate Bill forces spent as much money in campaigns as their opponents etc.). But what is interesting for us about it is that he broadens out the argument, to make a point that it is far easier to get attention for controversy than for a positive agenda. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dispeptic Sceptics

Dagnabbit, there’s no pleasing you scepticy chaps is there. It’s not enough that people are becoming bored with climate change. They have to be becoming bored with climate change for the right reasons (obv. waking up to the grand conspiracy etc – see comments on Matthew’s recent post).

Are you environmentalists in disguise (as the more ardent fans of my favourite football club often chant, although they substitute ‘environmentalists’ for ‘Derby’)? Greens have been criticised – at least by Matthew and I – for wanting people to take the necessary actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the name of the climate; to forfend Armageddon.

In truth it doesn’t matter. If people are in fact beginning to wonder if the whole oil thing looks a bit iffy and so whack a solar panel on their Wimpy semi then it’s all to the good (even if we do end up paying them for the privilege). Not only do they mitigate a little bit of climate change, but they’re also instant early adopters.

In a topsy-turvy fashion, one could apparently level the same criticism at denialist folk. If people are becoming disgruntled with beardy climate wonks (strokes beard!), it has to be because they’ve seen through the AGW lie and not due to a growing sense that dealing with climate change all looks a bit too tricky and pricey, thank you (is it your zeal I can feel?)

Can’t you Bishophillbilly types arrange to dance a fandango with some of the residents of the Dark Mountain. Or just have a big old hug. You’ll all feel better. Honest.

Leave a comment

Filed under Climate deniers, Environmentalists

The politics of climate and energy as told through the washing machine

No one does it like Hans Rosling:

Leave a comment

Filed under Decoupling, Growth

Up and down with climate change

Hidden away in one of Andrew’s recent posts was a link to an interesting DotEarth piece about how, after a few years of intense media attention, climate change has “reverted to its near perpetual position on the far back shelf of the public consciousness — if not back in the freezer.”

For old hands in US debates about the environment, this pattern should not come as a total surprise. I’ve just had my attention drawn (hat tip to Tim Bale at Sussex Uni) to what is apparently the classic work on the “issue-attention cycle”, by the doyen of US political scientists Anthony Downs (see lovely pic left).

Entitled “Up and down with ecology”, Downs’ 1972 article lays out a public interest cycle that many major issues go through in modern political life. As Downs puts it: Continue reading


Filed under Uncategorized