Will the UK pick up on Obama's lead in climate policy?

• By Catherine Happer, University of Glasgow • In his state of the union address, US President Barack Obama threw down the gauntlet to Congress on climate change action – and in the process, cemented the re-prioritisation of the issue which began in the final weeks of his re-election campaign. After two years of virtual silence, Hurricane Sandy brought climate change hurtling back onto the US press agenda, and that of the Obama Administration. In the UK the silence has been not been so deafening, but British environmentalists have similarly had their hopes dashed over the last couple of years – as the pledge made by the coalition on its formation in 2010 to make the “greenest government ever” has been swept aside by a short-sighted austerity agenda and internal squabbling over the UK’s energy future. But where America leads, the UK tends to follow – and just in the last few weeks, there is a hint that things might be changing. It’s early days but some bold rhetoric from the Prime Minister suggests that climate change and the green economy may be back – and that the naysayers in government, including Chancellor George Osborne, could have a reinforced battle on their hands. ‘Vote blue, go green’ In 2006, David Cameron, then leader of the opposition, posed with a pack of huskies in a bid to promote his party’s eco-credentials summed up in the slogan ‘vote blue, go green’. At that point, the environmental commitment was at the heart of the rebranding of the Conservative party as modern and compassionate – reflecting the public appetite for a progressive green agenda. But the outbreak of the global recession in 2007 changed all that – and, ever since, the economy has taken precedence over everything else for governments in the West. While still officially promoting their green vows on taking office, since 2010 the coalition government has doggedly reasserted that the urgent priority is tackling the UK’s deficit whilst promoting economic recovery ...Zum vollständigen Artikel

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