28 July 2009

Climate Activists in Denial

Gideon Rachman, chief foreign affairs commentator for the Financial Times, has an incisive column today on the state of international climate politics. He begins:

The phrase “climate change denier” has a nasty ring to it. It links those who dispute mainstream science on global warming with “Holocaust deniers”. They are not just wrong, it implies, they are evil.

But the climate change lobby is in the grip of its own form of dangerous fantasy. It is in denial not about science – but about international politics.

And he concludes:

The state of international negotiations presents a huge dilemma for climate change activists. Most genuinely believe that a failure to achieve an international agreement in Copenhagen would be catastrophic. But they also know that, even if a deal is reached, it is likely to be feeble and ineffective. If they admit this publicly, they risk creating a climate of despair and inaction. But if they press ahead, they are putting all their energy into an approach that they must know is highly unlikely to deliver.

It is a horrible dilemma. But, in difficult situations, it is best to start by facing facts.
We recently offered an analysis of how climate policy might get back on course, starting with a clear-eyed recognition of the failure of the current approach and proceeding to outline a pragmatic way forward.

You can read that essay here:

Prins, G., Cook., M., Green, C., Hulme, M., Korhola, A., Korhola, E.R., Pielke, Jr., R., Rayner, S., Sawa, A., Sarewitz, D., Stehr, N., and H. von Storch, 2009. How to get climate policy back on course. Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, Oxford University and London School of Economics, The Mackinder Programme, LSE.