Why the Fight Against Climate Change is Closely Linked to Politics..

How climate change is going to shape the future political landscape of the world
-Aditya Mathur
“Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal” claimed the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC). Polar areas are losing ice mass at rates three times higher than previously known, glaciers in mountain ranges worldwide are retreating, sea levels have risen by more than 20 centimeters in the past century, the frequency of extreme climatic events has multiplied manifold and surface temperature has risen by almost a degree since the Industrial revolution. Granted, our planet has had a long history of evolving, from being a planet full of volcanoes, to oceans and finally to its present state today. However
the shift in climatic patterns in the past few decades is a result of human activities and is thus, unnatural. Despite this hard pressing evidence, there exist climate change deniers, who often sadly occupy top positions of power in various countries. These individuals have high ranking portfolios and have authority to influence the political discourse of climate change profoundly. Yet, they choose to act in the interest of big businesses and the so-called-economy rather than mitigating the threats at hand.
Differences in the way liberals and conservatives perceive the threats of climate change are starkly visible both in surveys, as well as governmental actions such as President Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the Paris Climate Accord. According to
surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center, Americans are divided on the importance that must be attributed to climate change not based on science
or evidence, but on their political leaning. Just 21% of surveyed Republicans feel that climate change should be a top priority for the Congress and the President compared to 78% of Democrats who felt the same way. Part of this difference in perception can be attributed to the way liberal and conservative ideologies function in the US. Conservatives are staunch capitalists and therefore, they monetarily benefit out of protecting the often vile interests of large corporations. American liberals on the other hand challenge this narrative and believe in keeping checks on large businesses, by taxing them. Since large corporations account for a sizeable chunk of global
greenhouse gas emissions, the liberal approach seems much more ideal to hold rich industrialists accountable for their actions and the harm caused to the environment directly or indirectly by their firms. This also explains President Trump’s business-as-usual approach to solving this impending crisis, referring to the Paris Accord as a “bad deal” for the US- for he is a businessman and not a political leader focused on solving issues that affect the masses. Lastly, it must also be noted that President Trump won the 2016 election on a manifesto that included “debunking the pseudoscience behind climate change”. Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic, in Germany, the “Green Party” has seen a huge rise in its popularity. As its name suggests, one of the main focuses of this political party has been to step up Germany’s game in tackling climate change, by means of promoting social, economic and ecological sustainability. As a consequence, they have won a record breaking 20.5% of seats in Germany’s parliament, the Reichstag and co-govern in 11 of Germany’s 16 provinces. The
Greens place themselves towards the left of the political spectrum, reflecting how scientific narratives on climate change largely appeal to liberal voters and individuals, who in turn spearhead change. In conclusion, climate change has a great potential to affect political discourse around the world and as citizens of nations, we possess in our hands the power to affect the same, by exercising our right to vote responsibly. We can thus choose green politics and limit the effects of climate change or re-elect climate change deniers and jeopardize the future of a planet. For after all, as
Barack Obama rightly said, “We are the first generation to feel the impacts of climate change and the last generation that can do anything about it”.

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