Author Archives: andrewpendleton

Can Climate Campaigns Reach 9 Million MPH?

In haste, but because we were recently asked by a climate campaigner friend; can there be a Make Poverty History (MPH) campaign for climate change?

From memory, MPH persuaded its supporters in the UK to take more than 9 million separate actions (please correct us if our memory is errant) in the run up to Gleneagles G8 summit in 2005. These included sending postcards and text messages to leaders, signing petitions and taking part in a succession of campaigning events and protests. Continue reading

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The Politics of Climate Change … Again

If the Australian electorate used last week’s poll to speak out on climate change, it certainly did not do so without equivocation.

With three parliamentary seats left to fill with certainty, the results to date suggest a vote evenly split between the less climate friendly Coalition and the more climate friendly Australian Labor Party (ALP). The Greens have picked up only one seat and there are likely to be four independents, three of whom it seems will assume a king- or queen-maker role. Continue reading

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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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The Politics of Climate Change

A primer for the last in ippr’s A Climate of Politics events series (9.00am, ippr, Tuesday 29 June 2010)

In partnership with Christian Aid and WWF-UK and with technical assistance from Cisco Systems, ippr – Political Climate’s parent organisation – has been grappling with the politics of climate change (rather than climate change policy). The final event in a series of five focuses on creating political space for more ambitious action on climate change. We hope this post – which is our interpretation of what we’ve heard so far – is interesting in its own right, but we also hope it will help get the debate going for those attending.

What have we learnt from the series, which has looked so far at the UNFCCC process and the politics in China, the US and the EU? There are perhaps four important lessons… Continue reading

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Stoking the Eskom Debate

Before we start, it’s important to make two things very clear. First, Political Climate thinks that building new coal-fired power stations without emissions abatement is unwise on climate grounds. Second, we think subsidies for the capital costs of new electricity generation should now be focussed on renewables. But, as the unfolding debate concerning the building by Eskom of a massive coal power plant at Lephalale in South Africa’s Limpopo Province illustrates, simply holding such views is not enough.

The plant (the above picture is its construction site) has been named ‘Medupi’ by state-owned Eskom. This apparently means ‘rain that soaks parched lands’ – perhaps unfortunate given the climate impacts of coal. At 4,788 MW of installed generating capacity, Medupi will be an absolute monster; reportedly the fourth largest coal plant in the world. Continue reading

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Copenhagen’s Carcass

Six months on and commentators continue to pick the last morsels of analysis off the carcass of the 15th Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen. The UK’s Guardian, for instance, has had a couple of goes at this piece, which pins the blame on the Danes and their cursed text.

Per Meilstrup, a Danish journalist, has written a whole book on COP 15 – largely the source of the Guardian piece – and reveals the ‘real’ Danish text on his blog.

Mistakes were clearly made – by the Danes and the UNFCCC’s secretariat – but the key question that the climate coroners need to ask is arguably this one: Had Lars Lokke Rasmussen not botched the high-level diplomacy, would Copenhagen have concluded with a more substantive outcome? The answer is almost certainly still no.

Why? The reasons are fundamentally to do with politics at the national level, which is where the politics mostly are. China and the US had already made announcements before Copenhagen and because of their respective domestic decision making processes, neither were in a position to increase their offers. So the conventional logic of diplomacy – that governments always arrive at summits with something extra tucked in their back pockets – did not hold. Continue reading

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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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India and Climate Negotiations

India has often been seen as an awkward customer in international processes. While this is indubitably true in the climate negotiations, it is not merely because of negotiating style. Rather, it is down to India’s complex national interests, which are no less pressing and from a political perspective arguably more knife-edge critical than those faced by the US.

There is no other country quite like India. As the World Bank’s country overview shows, while poverty rates have been reduced in the past two decades, more than one quarter of the rural and urban population remain poor in absolute terms. Continue reading

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BASIC Indian Considerations

India and China are so often mentioned in the same breath, especially in climate change negotiations. Prior to Copenhagen, they joined up with Brazil and South Africa to form the BASIC grouping. But many in Delhi are asking a two-pronged question about BASIC; ‘does it serve India’s interests’ and ‘for how long’?

In some respects BASIC is an evolutionary beast whose ancestors were the G90 and G20 that mated during the Doha round of World Trade Organisation talks and ultimately brought them to a grinding hault. Like the ‘G110’, as it became known during the WTO’s 2005 ministerial meeting in Hong Kong, BASIC is also a blocking constituency. However, it differs from the G110 in the rather obvious respect of being a much smaller group of large, developing world economies and is also Sino-centric; the G110 was not. Continue reading

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Indian Political Climate

Political Climate is off to India for a few days to participate in an event looking at linkages between technology, economic opportunities and finance. It’s being organised by TERI which partners with ippr in the Global Climate Network of think tanks.

Our crude understanding of Indian climate politics is that its government, elected last year in a surprise landslide, must deliver on its mandate from poor, rural communities first and foremost. While India has in place a climate change plan of action, it is rural poverty that hampers its development; climate policy must serve India’s social and economic goals.

We’ll be blogging from Delhi in the next few days to try and illuminate the politics of climate change in India.

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