The last two decades have witnessed an ever growing partisan divide in US politics over climate change and global warming. Significant elements in the Republican Party became openly hostile to the scientific evidence and, following the election of George W. Bush, legislative action at the federal level effectively ground to a halt. This opened up space at the state and local level to develop climate change policies with cities such as Chicago, San Francisco and New York implementing a number of initiatives that brought real and substantive developments. The election of Barack Obama in 2008 seemed to open new possibilities for federal and global leadership once more and whilst the Obama administration has been criticised for a somewhat contradictory approach to the issue at times, there were nonetheless a number of substantive policy developments.
Through a substantive and detailed analysis of the politics of climate change, this book places the evolution of US climate policy within broader debates on the nature of politics in the US and argues that there exists a latent potential, often obscured by the complexities of its political system, for America to act as a world leader on the issue.
This work will appeal particularly to students and scholars in American Politics, but will also prove useful to those in the fields of general Politics, climate change, sustainability, and environmental studies.
Hugh Atkinson is a tutor in politics and sustainability at London South Bank University. He is a distinguished research fellow at the Schumacher Institute for Sustainable Solutions, Bristol. His main research specialism is in the politics of climate change.
Chapter one Two decades of change: consensus and conflict
Chapter two The Obama Presidency
Chapter three Interests, Influence and Power
Chapter four The Politics of Energy
Chapter five Action on Climate Change at State and City Level
Chapter six The USA as a World Leader in Tackling Climate Change and Building a More Sustainable World: Opportunities and Constraints
'Hugh Atkinson's timely analysis of policy under Obama is a crucial study of one of the world's most important states in the struggle to address climate change. An indispensable guide that traverses the pre-Obama years, local and national policy, and international relations with aplomb, this book is empirically rich and analytically insightful'. - Paul Tobin, University of Manchester, UK.