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The politics of climate change

The politics of climate change

Anthony Giddens

08 September 2008


Climate change is now a mainstream political issue. However, as yet there is no substantive framework for policy which offers coherence and consistency as to how national governments should cope with its long-term political challenges, according to a new paper by the Labour peer and sociologist Anthony Giddens.

Download a copy here.

In the paper, entitled The Politics of Climate Change: national responses to the challenge of global warming, Giddens argues that national political leaders lack a developed analysis of the political changes which will have to be made if their aspirations to limit climate change are to be met - especially at a national level where much of the action must occur. The paper reflects upon:

• Whether we need a return to "planning" in some form, where binding decisions on climate change policy can be made that override changes of government.
• The possibility of forging and sustaining a cross-party consensus on climate change policy.
• Whether it is possible to develop a more positive set of public values around environmental ends - for instance by emphasising the health benefits of green policies.
• The possibility of developing a comprehensive climate change policy approach and green fiscal framework combining both incentives and sanctions.

Giddens also considers the UK's "ambitious" policy approach - including the current climate change and energy bills before parliament - as an example of the possibilities and problems of climate change policy at a national level.

The paper launches a new Policy Network project held in conjunction with the Centre for the Study of Global Governance at the London School of Economics on the politics of climate change. Led by the paper's author and Policy Network's vice chair Roger Liddle, the project will examine how best to develop an effective climate change policy framework through a comparative political analysis of key western democracies. It will provide a forum for the discussion of the complex politics of climate change between national and international policymakers, academics and commentators.

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