Just three years ago the politics of global warming was enjoying its golden moment. The release in 2006 of Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth, had riveted global audiences with its predictions of New York and Miami under 20 feet of water. Within 12 months, leading politicians with real power were on board. Germany’s Angela Merkel, dubbed the “climate chancellor” by her country’s press, arranged a Greenland photo op with a melting iceberg and promised to cut Europe’s emissions by 20 percent by 2020. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who called climate change a scourge equal to fascism, offered 60 percent by 2050. In December 2007, the world got its very first green leader. Harnessing the issue of climate change, Kevin Rudd became prime minister of Australia, ready to take on what he called “the biggest political, economic, and moral challenge of our times.” Now, almost everywhere, green politics has fallen from its lofty heights.
Following two of the harshest winters on record in the Northern Hemisphere—not to mention an epic economic crisis—voters no longer consider global warming a priority. Just 42 percent of Germans now worry about climate change, down from 62 percent in 2006. In Australia, only 53 percent still consider it a pressing issue, down from 75 percent in 2007. Americans rank climate change dead last of 21 problems that concern them most, according to a January Pew poll. Last month Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, blasting climate change as a “sideshow” to global economic issues, canceled the meeting of environment ministers that has preceded the G8 or G20 summit every year but one since 1994. Merkel has slashed green-development aid in the latest round of budget cuts, while in Washington, Barack Obama seems to have cooled on his plan to cap emissions. In perhaps the most striking momentum reversal for environmental politicians, last month Rudd became the first leader to be destroyed by his green policies. Flip-flopping over planned emissions cuts as the opposition exploited Australian voters’ flagging support for climate measures, he was finally ousted by party rebels.
Source Link: newsweek.com