Archive for December, 2009

Why governments are storing up trouble on climate change

Posted in Climate Sock on December 21st, 2009 by leo – 4 Comments

HSBC have recently released the third wave of their Climate Confidence Monitor, part of their sustainability programme. The research is an annual tracker of attitudes towards climate change in 12 countries, covering a spread of developed and emerging states.

While the research isn’t particularly ambitious, it pulls out some interesting findings about the role of the individual and of government in tackling climate change. And it suggests that there may be something worrying building in the way people are seeing climate change and the responsibility for dealing with it. read more »

Is Giddens right about the Climate Change paradox?

Posted in Climate Sock on December 13th, 2009 by leo – 2 Comments

In the introduction to his The Politics of Climate Change, Anthony Giddens describes what he, somewhat immodestly, refers to as ‘Giddens’s Paradox’:

since the dangers posed by global warming aren’t tangible, immediate or visible, many will sit on their hands and do nothing of a concrete nature about them. Yet waiting until they become visible and acute before being stirred to serious action will, by definition, be too late”.

We can test whether or not the first part of this is true, using a question that appears quite often in the polling data. A number of firms regularly ask questions to identify the most important issue of the day, giving a good sense of the relative importance attached to climate change. Looking at these numbers, we see that Giddens’s Paradox doesn’t always stand up to scrutiny. read more »

How to win elections on the environment

Posted in Climate Sock, Politics on December 6th, 2009 by leo – Comments Off on How to win elections on the environment


Various polling houses have data on which of the parties are seen to be best for various issues – including the environment. The wording of the questions they use vary a little so the answers aren’t totally comparable across polls, but there are a couple of themes that come out consistently. For the examples below, I will use data from ICM’s August ’09 poll for the Guardian, as it’s the most recent that I’m aware of (I could have used others, like YouGov’s March ’09 data to come to the same conclusions).

The first point that stands out is that none of the three major parties are seen to be worse on the environment than the others: the Tories are best according to 19%, Labour are on 17%, the Lib Dems 16%, and Another Party 18%(1).

Secondly, and of course connected to the first point, of the issues covered by ICM the environment is the issue that is least ‘owned’ by a single party. Compared with the Tories leading on the environment with 19%, other issues are dominated by one party with much higher scores – for example, the Tories dominate Law and Order with 34%, and Labour wins Health Services with 31% (see graph below). read more »