Last year I blogged on Walter Russel Mead’s analysis that linked climate denial to a tradition of American populism. At one level it is obvious that there is an association between climate scepticism and populists (such as the lovely Jeremy Clarkson). But in this post I explore those links more deeply, inspired by Paul Taggart’s excellent book on populism. Continue reading
Category Archives: UK politics
In the previous post, I reviewed the current controversy about the costs of expanding offshore wind, and the argument made by organisations like Policy Exchange that we could meet our 2020 carbon targets more cheaply simply by bringing in a carbon tax and switching from coal to gas in power generation.
The PEx argument raises a number of challenges. Continue reading
In early 2008, I interviewed the generation portfolio manager (the guy who decided whether to invest in new power stations, and what kind) for one of the Big 6 UK energy companies. In the course of the interview he said something that really struck me – namely that the dilemma the company faced was that they simply didn’t know whether, and how much, the UK public would be willing to pay, 5 to 10 years hence, for renewable energy. It wasn’t necessarily that he thought that they wouldn’t be willing to pay, simply that the company just didn’t know, and that this fundamental uncertainty was a factor weakening the policy arrangements in place to support investment in renewable energy. A company will be highly reluctant to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on investments that could end up stranded and worthless because a support policy collapses in the face of public hostility. For me it was the moment I really understood the meaning of policy credibility. I have since told that story countless times, often to those in the environmental movement, many of whom who believed that the mere existence of a policy is a guarantee of its effectiveness (and its future), but often felt they didn’t get the point, or ignored it.
But the underlying politics is now coming back to bite them in the bum. Continue reading
Bryan Walsh’s piece on Al Gore’s reality versus everyone else’s in Time magazine is an excellent precis of the current politics of climate change. He even gets the UK picture about right; the default position for US environmental writers is to assume European climate policy is a done deal. That said, Continue reading
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
Earlier this year, Stephen Hale – head of the UK’s Green Alliance network of companies and NGOs – left for a new life in Geneva working for Oxfam International. His parting shot was a pamphlet called The New Commandments of Climate Change Strategy: How to cut emissions and win elections too. We think that it’s very good, and didn’t get enough attention at the time, so we’re urging people to go back and have another look.
This slightly Biblical-sounding pamphlet (is Stephen casting himself as the Moses of climate policy?) looking at what governments should do is a follow-up to his 2008 New Politics of Climate Change, which looks at what civil society should do.
Both start with an excellent Continue reading