British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is planning on leaving office sometime this summer, is apparently going to dedicate his post-Ministerial days to building global consensus on climate change. According to The Independent this will involve heavy lobbying of US politicians and engaging India and China to develop a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol.
Whether Blair will be effective is unclear. His main environment adviser, David Milliband, is taking an interesting approach by engaging with state and local politicians in the US rather than the Bush Administration. The assumption appears to be that if many of the large states like California adopt CO2 emissions reduction targets, then systems will be in place for Bush’s successor to easily establish a federal program.
Climate change policy influence and change is proceeding in an interesting fashion. It is separate from the traditional singularly elite stage of negotiations between heads of states, on the one hand. But, on the other hand, it is not clearly a “grass roots” global movement. Rather, we have high-profile elites engaging sub-nationally to affect policy change.
The situation resembles a loose coalition of like-minded advocates intervening at the most opportune governmental levels and employing a variety of methods. A good example of this process might be the efforts by California’s Attorney General–and former governor–Jerry Brown who is proceeding with a lawsuit against major automobile manufacturers for repayment of damages caused by greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles. Even the threat of a lawsuit from the largest state in the US could prompt automobile makers to produce more environmentally-friendly cars nationally.