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From shrillness to sobriety: pragmatism in climate politics

From shrillness to sobriety: pragmatism in climate politics

Michael Lind

19 April 2010


Climate change: the challenge for the US Democrats

Apathy, disregard and fatigue towards combating climate change are on the rise in the US.

Increasing partisan polarisation, high levels of unemployment and uncertainty over what constitutes both a progressive economic and values-based approach to cutting carbon emissions have all contributed to a maladroit and ineffective politics of climate change.

In rethinking failed strategies, Michael Lind argues that progressives would do well to forego jeremiads, define the problem in terms of technology and advocate large-scale direct government activism.

Michael Lind is policy director of the Economic Growth Program at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Essay series - Climate change: the challenge for social democracy

The urgent challenge of climate change poses a significant test for democratic politics.

New growth models, taxation, energy prices, access to transport, global governance and the implications for social justice are only some of key issues at stake. In the wake of Copenhagen's failure and as public support for dramatic emissions cuts wanes, the progressive reaction must be to sharpen our policy and political arguments in order to create a new, legitimate climate politics.

This new Policy Network essay series aims to shape this debate through informed critique and fresh thinking. Each piece provides a different perspective on how to overcome the present impasse and secure public support for equitable, just and effective climate change policies.

What's the story? Nation-building narratives in Australian climate politics (David Hetherington and Tim Soutphommasane)
• Regrets, they’ve had a few: where now for climate politics? (Jürgen Krönig)
• Needs must: should the environment trump prosperity? (Clive Soley)
• Rethinking climate change strategy for national governments (Stephen Hale)

Other politics of climate change papers

• Democracy, climate change and global governance (David Held & Angus Fane Hervey)
• The politics of climate change: national responses to the challenge of global warming (Anthony Giddens)

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