The Politics of Climate Change in the UK

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Between 2006 and 2010 climate change rose rapidly up the UK political agenda
and the Labour Government, with cross-party support, introduced major changes
in domestic climate and energy policy, including the landmark Climate Change Act
2008, which represented an important step toward the UK becoming a low carbon
economy. Cross-party consensus was initially sustained by the Conservative-
Liberal Democrat Coalition, before growing criticism from the political right began
to turn climate change into an increasingly partisan issue, thereby weakening the
commitment of David Cameron to climate leadership. The article examines the
transition of climate change from low politics to high politics, assessing the role of
public opinion, the media, business, environmental groups, and party competition
in overcoming the obstacles to progressive climate change and energy policy. The
roles of party politics and of individual political leadership are identified as critical
factors in raising the profile of climate change and delivering radical policy change.
The significance of the growing partisan divisions over climate change is assessed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423–433
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
Issue number3
Early online date31 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • climate change
  • Labour Government
  • Conservative Party
  • climate politics
  • environmental policy

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