UK Election

(Caroline Lucas, first Green Party MP)
I’m writing this at 9.15 on the morning of Friday 7th May 2010. A historic election has just taken place in the UK, the results of which are still far from clear. So far only 612 of the 650 seats are declared and it may be some days before we know who’ll be Prime Minister. The LibDems have failed to make a breakthrough, but may play a decisive role in forming a coalition government. The Conservatives will be the biggest party, but probably not with an absolute majority, and with a greater resistance to forming a coalition with the LibDems than Labour does.
But what does any of this mean for the politics of climate change? My hopes had been that the Green Party would make a breakthrough and win 3 or 4 seats. Caroline Lucas has been elected in Brighton Pavilion, which is certainly something to celebrate. Having her strong voice representing a radical shift toward an ecologically sustainable and socially just future is invaluable. But she is on her own: Adrian Ramsey in Norwich South, despite doubling his vote to 7,095 still came in fourth place, as did Tony Juniper in Cambridge with 3,804 votes and Darren Johnson in Lewisham Deptford with 2,772. Disappointing.
The Conservatives, who will be the biggest single party, are deeply divided on Climate Change with Climate Sceptics perhaps most numerous, yet committed environmentalists like Zac Goldsmith believing that the party is changing. If they do form a Government this may be the issue that splits them as Europe did in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
For the LibDems, despite getting fewer MPs than in the last Parliament might see their influence grow. This may help push the environment up the political agenda, but not in the radical way which is needed. And with New Labour we’ll get more of the hesitant and confused incremental steps toward sustainability.
Meanwhile atmospheric Co2 is at 391.06 and rising. The future of humanity is being determined by factors that politicians the world over are failing to get to grips with. Sadly this election gives little reason for optimism.