Grist posted the results of a US poll earlier this week showing the popularity of alternative forms of energy. Remarkably, its article is without substance or much commentary, which is why I’m merely pasting in the poll results here.
Three points of interest: First, a Senate bill focused on clean energy (ill defined in the question, but nevertheless pretty clear) is very popular. Second, a drilling bill is also fairly popular. Third, no mention of climate change. Continue reading
If you watched this, read this. But then read this and this and then this. Continue reading
This thought-provoking FT Leader heralds the demise of technocracy in the face of harder economic times. It has, as all things thought-provoking should, got us thinking.
The elite that the FT Leader argues is now feeling the heat of populist indignation under its feet has been at the forefront of arguing for action to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The evidence from the science and economics of climate change is on their side. But climate policy threatens to harm many people’s already hard-pressed interests.
‘The people are complaining loudly’ argues the FT. ‘Elites must both listen and respond.’
There are at least two ways in which this might play out for climate change. First, the implementation of technocratically defensible climate objectives may become tougher and tougher as people rail against wider hardships and the impositions of elites.
Second – and highlighted brilliantly by Andrew Revkin in the New York Times – rather than becoming embroiled in denialism, climate progress might simply be trampled underfoot as people scramble around more immediate concerns or be drowned out by the surround sound of populism.
Either way, the climatocracy that has emerged in recent years may be under threat if, as the FT suggests, people in moribund economies look to assert their will and bring down incumbents.
After Copenhagen, getting the COP to agree on almost anything would have seemed an achievement, so it’s worth taking the outcome of COP 16 in Cancún – reported by many as a ‘deal’ – with a pinch of salt. Of course, not having more than 100 world leaders present probably helped by taking the weight off the UN’s shoulders. But without heads of government, political commitment to the process and its Mexican outcomes cannot be assumed.
Sleep Deprivation is probably playing a part in the somewhat dizzy response that’s emerging from Mexico. The Guardian’s ‘The Deal LIVE‘ is a good example. A more sober assessment of the implications comes from Fred Pearce on the News Scientist’s website. Continue reading
By Nick Pearce, Director of ippr.
Expectations are low for Cancun. As Tim Wirth and John Podesta at the Center for American Progress – one of ippr’s partners in the Global Climate Network – put it, negotiators may ‘start to pivot toward a new strategy of gradualism’. On the Cancun agenda is how countries can be transparent in achieving emissions reductions, the introduction of credits for preserving forests into carbon markets, and the transfer of finance from rich to poor countries to help cover climate costs. Off the agenda is a comprehensive, legally binding climate treaty of the kind that was so spectacularly not agreed in Copenhagen this time last year.
The juxtaposition of the climate talks and the icy weather across most of northern Europe is important because, while the relationship between climate and weather is dynamic rather than direct, cold winters and failing global negotiations are both likely to weaken public support for action on climate change. Continue reading
We’re pretty skeptical about the political reach of the 10:10 campaign. But, thinking back to our recent post comparing Make Poverty History to climate campaigning, 10:10 is more akin to the wide and shallow nature of the former than the narrow and often unpalatably deep characteristics of the latter.
No surprise, then, that this morning, 10:10 unveiled a video that came right out of the MPH stables – made by Richard Curtis, no less. Right now, the 10:10 campaign is frantically trying to back pedal from its association with this video (so note that our link above may not work by the time you click on it).
‘No Pressure’, the title of the film, seems to have won few friends on either side of the climate debate and also to have attracted enemies. It has been derided by 350.org’s Bill McKibben, writing on the almost never funny and frequently maniacal Climate Progress. It has been branded eco-fascism by James Delingpole in the UK’s Telegraph, but then one should never take Delingpole’s pronouncements at face value. He’s what’s know as a humourist in polite circles and a piss-taker elsewhere. Continue reading
Our letter is published in today’s Guardian newspaper. You can read it here and below:
The Guardian, Letters, 23 September 2010.
George Monbiot is right to highlight politics as the main blocker to action on climate change (Climate change enlightenment was fun while it lasted. But now it’s dead, 21 September). It’s only a shame it’s taken him and many others so long to recognise what the evidence has been saying for some time.
Climate change is a long-term problem that requires short-term responses. Polls suggest that about two-thirds of people accept the role of humans in changing the climate, but tend not to prioritise it when at the checkout or ballot box. Thus while political and corporate rhetoric has increased in recent years, there have been few costly investments in new technology. Continue reading
In Today’s Guardian newspaper in the UK, environmental columnist George Monbiot has seemingly woken up to the politics of climate change – almost. He finishes a lengthy soliloquy to the global climate change negotiations and climate campaigning more generally with the following:
‘All I know is that we must stop dreaming about an institutional response that will never materialise and start facing a political reality we’ve sought to avoid. The conversation starts here.’
The conversation in fact began a while ago, notably over at the Breakthrough Institute in the US and in Anthony Giddens book. Continue reading
Here’s a post that might equally well be entitled ‘better late than never’; I’ve finally got around to looking at this year’s data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance contained within the UNEP-SEFI global trends report. It’s fascinating and puts in context the last post on this blog which focused on the demise of emissions target-setting.
New investment in sustainable energy globally fell by 7 per cent in 2009, compared to 2008, to a total of $162 billion. This should not cause major concern since levels of investment are highly likely to fluctuate considerably from year-to-year. It’s the average over time that matters and the UNEP report points out that this was still the second highest annual investment in sustainable energy on record.
But it’s the detail rather than the aggregate data that’s of interest. Continue reading
To cries of ‘now you tell us,’ Yvo de Boer, the man perpetually dubbed ‘former UN climate chief’, has reportedly said ‘Discussions about [emissions] targets have become largely irrelevant in the context of the Copenhagen outcome.’ And, has reportedly also said,’ I don’t think that we’re going to see a dramatic increase in the level of ambition.’
His argument is one that will be familiar to regular readers of politicalclimate.net: Countries have made their best offers in the annexes to the Copenhagen Accord and are unlikely to revise upwards until political and economic conditions change. As we pointed out over on the Open Democracy website prior to Copenhagen, targets do not inexorably lead to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (although if there’s a process like the UK’s Climate Change Committee in place, they certainly help). Continue reading