Is there now a British political consensus on climate change?
There was a very telling moment in last night’s Channel 4 TV hustings for the Conservative Party leadership, and thus Prime Minister at least for a while. Presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy quipped that none of the five contenders present (there was a Boris-shaped hole in proceedings) had mentioned climate change and was quickly upbraided as at least three of them had. According to the Guardian, all six candidates back outgoing PM Theresa May’s policy of net zero emissions by 2050.
This consensus is quite remarkable given the levels of climate scepticism/denial on the right of politics in the past. I have always found it strange that so many avowed Thatcherites (Lawson, Lilley et al) ignored their heroine’s groundbreaking 1989 speech on climate change, and I have long remarked on the correlation of climate-scepticism and euroscepticism. With hardcore leavers/free marketeers such as Dominic Raab now publicly signing up to net zero, that link seems to be fading.
This is, of course, great news. You now need to go to the lunatic fringes of left and right (e.g. Piers Corbyn, Ann Widdecombe) to find outright climate denial, and tackling the stiff challenge of net zero is taken as read across the mainstream. Of course the proof will be in the pudding – one-time husky-hugger David Cameron’s decision to ‘cut the green crap’ when things got difficult reminds us that promises are easily made, easily broken – but I for one think we are turning a political corner.