Monthly Archives: July 2019

A series of fortunate events…?

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The children’s author Lemony Snicket named his highly successful series of books A Series of Unfortunate Events. This title drips with irony, since the awful and apparently endless troubles of the orphaned Baudelaire twins have nothing to do with chance, but instead are very much the result of an intentional campaign waged by the wicked Count Olaf in order to get his hands on their family fortune.

In this post I argue that a mirror image of this construction can be found in some of the recent boosterism about the UK’s record on climate policy, and especially the ease with which the first two carbon budgets have been met. Rather than a simple story about the success of policies adopted under the Climate Change Act (CCA), promoted as a model for the rest of the world, I would argue that what has actually happened is a more complex and nuanced tale, in which a degree of good luck has played a major part.

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British climate politics – this time it’s different (but the same)


Starting about 15 years ago, Britain saw a wave of heightened concern about climate change. It emerged in the spring of 2004, peaked in late 2006 and by the early 2010s had largely dissipated.  But concern about climate change has made a dramatic comeback in 2019. This year has seen a ‘climate spring’ – the school strikes for climate, the net zero report by the Committee on Climate Change and above all the demonstrations by Extinction Rebellion have all pushed the issue way back the agenda. A climate emergency has been declared by multiple bodies and authorities, including Parliament. How far are things different this time round?

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