Putting Climate Change Front and Centre

Climate change is often treated in political discourse as the topic that dare not speak its name. For me, the biggest shock of the last cycle of presidential debates was that Romney and Obama were never even asked for an opinion on what to do about global warming. The topic had become taboo. Too difficult and contentious to discuss in polite company.

In the UK, David Cameron is now completely mute on the subject, desperate as he is to stop the right of the conservative party haemorrhaging to UKIP. I think this is cowardly stance: if the Tory right are going to haemorrhage over Europe and immigration, I hardly feel that climate change will make much difference. In fact, sticking to the original Conservative Party commitment to run the “greenest government ever” would have significant appeal to the much-neglected centre.

So plaudits to Ed Milliband for raising climate change as a wedge issue in today’s issue of the newspaper The Independent on Sunday. The Daily Mail will claim that this will put yet more distance between Ed and that great, all powerful God of British politics: “White Van Man”. But I am not so sure. A true politician of stature should be able to shape fashion, not follow it. The commentary by Ed Milliband is here. See what you think.

4 responses to “Putting Climate Change Front and Centre

  1. Thanks for the tip off, I don’t really follow the papers much nowadays as they are generally full of bull, and rely on greater sources such as yourself to filter the noise for me 🙂

    Discovered your blog about a month ago and really like what you’ve done/are still doing here. Keep up the good work and thanks again.

  2. You follow unconventional oil and gas, how do you see things developing with oil at $56? Some comments from another web site:

    “Yields on the junk paper issued to keep most of the shale oil companies drilling are going through the roof, come debt roll over time/issuances of new debt there will be no obvious buyers. The shale oil bubble is largely the creation of ultra cheap Fed money in the first place – without QE few of these companies could have got away with drilling on a negative cash flow basis. Once the industry really starts to go into widespread retrenchment and its contribution to the US ‘recovery’ is revealed watch for the wails to begin from the resident shale oil state politicians for a bail out. Don’t think for a moment it can’t happen – the US bailed out its car industry in 2008-2010 without even blinking.”

    from the FT:”The bulk of high yeild energy debt does not reach maturity until 2017, when about $13.7bn of bonds are due.”

    (Actually $13.7bn doesn’t seem that much in days when a single oil field – the non-producing Kashagan – can cost up to $100bn.)

    “The top 25 US shale oil companies were cash flow NEGATIVE to the tune of a total of $9 BILLION last year. That was when oil prices were around the $100/barrel mark. Now they are getting sub-$50 a barrel. Do tell how that’s going to play out and whether ‘panic’ is required?”

    • I’m not sure that oil-related debt default is of sufficient size to destabilise the US financial system. That said, we have full-blown contagion in a host of emerging markets, faltering growth in Europe and the slowdown in China.

      On the other hand, if things get too out of hand, the Fed can just launch QE4. I don’t really see a final ‘Big Bang’ scenario for the global economy; rather, we carry along a jagged plateau punctuated by numerous mini-crises (like the current one).

      The really scary bit will be when climate change starts to weigh on the economic ledger, which it really hasn’t done yet.

  3. By the way, did you happen to see David MacKay’s Simonyi Lecture?

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