A peek into the relatively sane climate debates outside the United States
In the United States, a man with a 50-percent shot at becoming president is on record insisting climate change is a conspiracy (except when he’s on record as a flip-flopper).
By and large, though, the climate-change debate looks different outside the States.
Norwegian researcher Sondre Båtstrand last year compared conservative parties in the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, and Australia, finding that the U.S. Republican Party alone was “an anomaly in denying anthropogenic climate change.”
Even when conservative candidates argue against climate-change action in their home countries, scientific denial is rarely part of the conversation. Here’s a whirlwind tour of the climate and energy debate around the world (which is thoroughly blissful compared to U.S. politics).
While incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper was regularly criticized for his support of the tar sands sector in last October’s federal election, he wasn’t an American-styled climate denier. Even under Harper’s admittedly lax climate agenda, Canada still supported the Paris climate deal and joined other G7 nations in calling for phasing out fossil fuels by 2100.
During last year’s U.K. election, climate change barely factored into the debate. But this wasn’t because of denial: It was because the leaders of the three major parties signed a joint climate pledge that would see the elected government “seek a fair, strong, legally binding, global climate deal,” agree to a carbon budget, and accelerate the transition to clean, low-carbon energy — regardless of who became Prime Minister.
As part of his re-election campaign this year, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has warned of increasingly severe disasters fueled by climate change. Turnbull even struck a subtlety, lost on most U.S. politicians, about the relationship between extreme weather and climate change. “Certainly, larger and more frequent storms are one of the consequences that the climate models and climate scientists predict from global warming, but you cannot attribute any particular storm to global warming, so let’s be quite clear about that,” he said on a campaign tour of recently flooded Tasmania.
An island-nation doesn’t have the “luxury of denying climate change,” much less in the Marshall Islands, CNN wrote last year. Already squeezed by the joint threats of drought and rising seas, Marshall Islands’ politicians are more pragmatic. Recently elected President Hilda Heine was a member of the Pacific Islands Climate Change Education Partnership, and Tony de Brum, lead climate negotiator for the Marshall Islands, was instrumental in pushing for stricter temperature goal in the Paris agreement.
Economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski won Peru’s tight presidential election in early June against his challenger, Keiko Fujimori. Kuczynski’s party’s plan promoted clean energy and Fujimori’s nodded to carbon-trading mechanisms. And though climate change didn’t factor heavily into election season, ignoring it is a far cry from calling it a hoax.