If a climate bill doesn’t become law this year, the inclination among many progressives will be to blame President Obama for his lack of leadership. And frankly progressives should be critical of Obama: In a bunch of pretty speeches he has repeatedly said the climate and clean energy jobs bill was a signature issue that would determine whether America achieves “lasting prosperity” or “decline” (see “Success or failure for Obama Presidency hangs in the balance” with climate bill).
But two recent stories remind us of who really is to blame for two decades of inaction. The first is “House Republicans Organize to Thwart Climate Legislation” in Roll Call (subs. req’d), which opens, “House Republicans have launched a new ‘real-time’ e-mail, Internet and media offensive aimed at fueling public opposition to Democrats’ climate proposals.”
The second is an article in UK’s Telegraph, “Britain’s silent, green revolution: “All the major parties are signed up to transforming Britain into a green, low-carbon economy to boost growth, as well as to combat climate change.”
Together they underscore a central point that I make in my new book, Straight Up (click here to purchase):
Only one political force could stop a climate bill in 2010, the same force that has impeded action for more than a decade “” the hard-core antiscience crowd that dominates much of conservative politics these days and that demagogues against even the most modest efforts to promote clean energy and reduce pollution
This emerging conservative litmus on climate is in many respects unique to U.S. politics, as the book notes. In the British reaction to the stolen emails, the top environmental leader for the conservatives in Parliament made clear that party understands both the science and the urgent need for action:
But tonight the shadow climate change secretary, Greg Clark, made clear the party line remains that climate change is a serious man-made threat. “Research into climate change has involved thousands of different scientists, pursuing many separate lines of independent inquiry over many years. The case for a global deal is still strong and in many aspects, such as the daily destruction of the Earth’s rainforests, desperately urgent,” he said.
In the election, all three major parties “are signed up to transforming Britain into a green, low-carbon economy to boost growth, as well as to combat climate change,” as the Telegraph just reported:
If they meet their promises – global warming and rising fossil fuel prices will make it hard for them to avoid it for long – they will effect the biggest change in Britain since the Industrial Revolution steamed into life in a blaze of coal.
It’s all there in the manifestos. The Conservatives aim to make Britain the “world’s first low-carbon economy”; the Lib Dems want Britain to “lead the new green economy that the world needs”; and Labour maintains that ours is already “a transition economy from high carbon to low carbon”. And all have set out more or less far reaching policies to put the promises into practice.
This will have a more profound and lasting effect on our lives than anything else in their manifestos.
Yes, there is nothing genuinely “conservative” about refusing to conserve resources, refusing to conserve a livable climate.
If we don’t get a climate bill this year — and we still have a fighting chance — the blame rests squarely on the hard-core antiscience crowd.