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The Conservative commitment to addressing climate change looks a bit shaky today, following David Davis’ condemnation of “statist, regulatory, dirigiste regimes”, fixated on setting tougher and tougher targets to curb emissions.
Given that Cameron has gone to great lengths to impress his green credentials upon the electorate, I think it's fair to assume he’ll be annoyed by this diatribe.
It is tempting to devote this blog to arguing that Davis needs a priority reshuffle if he thinks that “covering our beautiful countryside with wind turbines that look like props from War of the Worlds” is more tragic than potential environmental consequences if climate change really gets a grip.
But perhaps it is more constructive to note that Davis’ article is symptomatic of a green agenda that has lost its way.
As Ben Duckworth notes in this month’s issue of Total Politics, we have recently seen a “hasty downgrading of expectations” of what we can expect from the Copenhagen conference. As binding targets are put on the political back-burner, climate change has also been deprioritised in the public consciousness, with people either assuming that nothing can be done, or using dubious science to argue that nothing needs to be done anyway. On a domestic level people lack urgency, comfortably assimilating a bit of recycling into their routine, but unprepared to make more painful sacrifices and desensitised to ‘Twelve Days to Save the World’ announcements.
If the public is to be re-engaged, and real curbs on emissions introduced, the message must be revitalised. Climate change cannot be allowed to become a trope, regularly rattled off and so ignorable. If the message isn’t renewed, and the impact of ClimateGate combated, we will end up waiting for a real environmental catastrophe before we start taking it seriously again.
(Photo: Getty Images)