This paper, published in the journal Political Studies, investigates how politicians develop a democratic case for action on climate change.
Scientists are clear that urgent action is needed on climate. At the Paris Summit in 2015, world leaders agreed to limit rises in global temperatures. And yet climate change barely troubles domestic politics. Since then, I’ve interviewed over 20 members of the UK parliament, and one message has emerged with striking clarity: the electorate are not asking their representatives to act. In the words of one of my interviewees, “Voters don’t ask about it. We go out and knock on doors, and we speak to people, and I don’t know if I’ve ever been asked about climate change, ever.”
This » Continue Reading.
I’m in a café in the House of Commons, talking to a newly-elected MP about climate change. He’s under no illusions about likely impacts. He points out that where we’re sitting, beside the River Thames, could be under water in decades to come. He calls climate change ‘catastrophic’, and looks for every opportunity he can to raise the issue. But his commitment has come at a price: speaking out on climate is, he tells me, a ‘career-limiting move’.
It’s easy to get frustrated with politicians. We know the consequences of not acting on climate change. We know what needs to » Continue Reading.
As the need to cut carbon becomes more urgent, we are seeing more attention paid to technologies offering ways to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. At the risk of acronym overload, proposals include bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and direct air capture (DAC). Most climate modelling which predicts how the goals of the Paris Agreement can be reached now includes these technologies, as this Nature paper explains. The UK’s Research Councils have just funded a set of projects exploring the feasibility of greenhouse gas removal technologies.
Sounds great – after all, we need to do » Continue Reading.
My first encounter with the New Economics Foundation was over twenty years ago. A nervous new graduate, I came for an interview to be NEF’s office manager. I’d never worked in an office, or managed anything, but I had long admired NEF, so I somehow blagged my way in. I had a great chat with them about the state of the world, but unsurprisingly, they chose someone who, er, knew how to manage an office. (Incidentally, on the subject of rejection, have a look at this brilliant blog by Nick Hopwood. It would do us all good to » Continue Reading.
While climate deniers on both sides of the Atlantic attract media and public attention, the overwhelming majority of politicians in the UK support the scientific consensus on climate change. Just five out of 650 MPs voted against the Climate Change Act in 2008, and major parties in Westminster have all pledged their support for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, signed in December 2015.
That doesn’t mean that climate change is an easy subject for politicians. They have the tricky task of turning the scientific consensus about the need for action into a workable agenda that can win people’s support. » Continue Reading.
I spent a splendidly geeky day yesterday at the final conference of the iGov project at the University of Exeter, a project I’ve advised over three years. If there’s anything you ever want to know about how our crazily complex energy regulation system works, and what needs to change, just ask them. Believe me, they’ve got the answers.
I’ve found iGov’s work really useful in my work advocating community energy, and other innovations that don’t quite fit the system. My frustrations, and the need for iGov’s work, can be summed up in two words: “yes, but”.
This little phrase » Continue Reading.
When the going gets tough in UK politics, it’s tempting to look to Scandinavia for inspiration. Those ex-vikings seem to have mellowed into a peaceful, consensual bunch, quietly doing the right thing on social policy and environmental protection. Or so we believe. But what’s the truth behind the stereotype? I recently spent a month in Sweden, and while I’m still no expert, I had a lot of interesting conversations about Swedish politics – so here are my reflections.
First, the famed Swedish social contract is still very much in evidence, though it’s under some strain. Sweden has managed to » Continue Reading.