James Forsyth

Blair is right on climate change

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Ahead of Tony Blair's launch of a report on climate change, he's given an interview to The Sunday Times. The interviewer Jonathan Leake is highly sceptical of Blair and takes particular issue with this statement from him:

“The answer to climate change,” he says solemnly, “is the development of science and technology. Yes, we will get changes in the way we consume but we will be consuming differently, not necessarily less. People are not going to return to the 19th century. The critical thing is to use the technologies we have and to incentivise the development of new ones. That is the only practical way we will make this thing work.”

But Blair's analysis is surely correct. Any hair-shirt approach to dealing with this issue (I tend to the view that the scientific evidence suggests it is a genuine problem), is bound to fail. People aren't going to accept a return to a world where energy is extremely limited. The solution has to be technological. 

The quote, though, is a reminder of Blair's optimism. One of Blair's great skills as a politician, was to argue powerfully that the future can be better than the past. This meant that even as an incumbent Prime Minister, Blair was at an advantage in a future versus the past election. This was no small achievement. Does any swing voter today think that Gordon Brown is the future?