I couldn’t believe it. If a U.S. politician gave this speech … well, they’d be a Democrat, and the media would ignore it, and I’d probably never hear about it. But if I did, I’d faint. I can’t really find a single thing to criticize. The focus on energy decentralization leaves me woozy. The refusal to give nuclear special dispensation makes me swoon. I mean, damn.
Of course, I don’t know all that much about U.K. politics. Cameron could be a total gasbag for all I know. This could be an all-bark-no-bite kind of thing. And of course conservatives are out of power there and don’t have the capacity to do much even if they wanted.
But the point — as made at length by Mark Hertsgaard — is that Britain’s conservative party now recognizes concerted action on climate change is non-negotiable. Without it, the party is doomed:
The climate change debate in Europe is much less politicized than in the United States, and there is wide consensus that impacts are already being felt …. Public concern has grown so strong among elites and ordinary citizens that political parties have little choice but to respond. … Just as Republicans in California cannot get elected if they are seen as weak on the environment, so conservatives in Northern Europe must at least look green if they hope to govern.
This is what Gore is trying to achieve in the U.S. — not becoming president, but moving the public enough that the political parties can no longer give the issue second-tier status. He wants the parties to start competing to offer the best solutions to the problem.
Once that happens, it doesn’t matter who’s president, nobody will be able to get away with bullshit like this.