Are the Politics of Climate Change Going Out of Fashion?

A look at the shifting political attitudes towards climate change and the obligations that still remain.


What's Different?

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party have slowed the pace of existing green plans, causing friction within the party. The decision to scale back on green commitments has caused some Tories to be concerned about the environment taking a backseat in policy discussions. Former minister Chris Skidmore even resigned as an MP due to this disagreement.

On the other side, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer recently decided to drop the party's vow to spend £28 billion annually on green initiatives. This move signals a desire to prioritize fiscal responsibility and reassure voters that Labour will be careful with their money. However, not everyone within the Labour Party agrees with this decision, with accusations of being 'economically illiterate and environmentally irresponsible' being thrown around.

What's Not Different?

Despite the shifting political attitudes, the UK still faces obligations to combat climate change due to legislation passed by former Prime Minister Theresa May. The law requires the UK to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, with a 70% reduction in emissions by 2030. These targets have already influenced government actions, such as investment in cleaner steel and new laws on electric vehicles.

The government, however, has been accused of 'green hushing' - downplaying its actions on climate change due to concerns about negative media coverage. The challenge for politicians lies in fully understanding the scale of the changes required to transition to a greener economy.

The Politics of Climate Change

As the 2050 and 2030 targets approach, the practical realities of transitioning to a greener economy will become more apparent and potentially contentious. While action on climate change consistently ranks high among voters' concerns, the effects of these actions, such as higher costs for households, may not be well-received. There is a tension between the speed at which political parties are willing to act and the targets they have set for themselves.

The economic implications of addressing climate change also come into play, as much of the funding for green initiatives will come from industry. The conversation around climate change is shifting towards the economy, but the problem itself remains urgent. Climate change will continue to be a political issue for years to come.