Brexit, Trump and the potential break up of the European Union provides a "Perfect Storm" for those who have an interest in saving the planet. In the last year if a situation could get worse it did. Addressing climate change effectively requires concerted global action, compromise and sacrifices.
We were starting to get there with various global treaties; major territories like the USA, China and the EU were taking the issue seriously. The USA and China are enormous countries with political autonomy over large populations. Energy policy in these countries is decided centrally and as such it influences the behaviour of their businesses and people. The EU, whilst not an individual country, does have an advanced long-term view of climate change and through EU directives it influences how individual nation states within the union deal with energy issues. The EU does this fairly across a whole trading block, so that there is limited competitive edge from one territory to another, for example by adopting polluting energy solutions.
2016/17 saw spanners being slung into the works from every direction. We now have the potential of a British led destruction of the EU (I am British) reducing the coherence of any unified long term policy direction on energy, potentially moving us to individual nation state short-term economics as countries try to gain an economic edge in a new world order. Britain, once a world leader in serious issues, is now childishly totally focused on Brexit and imaginary trade deals. By the time these deals have been struck we could be another ten years down the road and the planet's climate will be even closer to the abyss. In Britain, intellect and knowledge are now frowned upon and the gamblers who prefer to vote and rule by hunch have won the day.
Add the situation in the USA, which seems to currently prefer “alternative facts” (they were called lies when I was a lad) to real ones being led up the garden path by a pantomime villain who when he can drag himself away from the golf course tweets to a gallery of his core supporters (ignored, ill informed, media manipulated angry white men) ignoring anything that does not fit into his lunatic narrative. Trump has solved the issue of climate change by saying that it does not exist. As a seventy year old man he will miss the worst of it. It is short termism at its most extreme. Key environmental policies will change for at least one political cycle in the USA. “The leaders of the free world” have lost the plot and it is likely to take a decade we cannot afford to get back on track with the real issues that will affect our children and grandchildren.
Despite having swapped Emperors for Leaders China has never really changed, The country has always been under despotic rule. Dynasties, emperors and dictators have ruled this massive country for 2500 years. In the past, when a new emperor took charge they might suddenly close their doors to the world and his successor might just as easily re-engage. The twentieth century in China saw the same with the changing policies of the dictators. The current communist party seems to understand that climate is an issue if only through the eyes of the pollution in their own back yard. They are at the moment actually changing things and showing some leadership, but for how long? How will the morphing balance in western politics change their attitudes and when will the communist party change track again?
I still believe democracy is probably the least worst political system but it is short term and to get elected you have to please your voters, and if those voters are ignorant of the really important issues or sold fantasies by their media, then power moves to those who promise the world. It is a world which they cannot deliver or have no intention of trying to; the population in the UK is still wondering about the £350 million for our NHS, a fantasy sold to the people during the Brexit Campaign. In short in 2016/17, we have put addressing our true problems at least 10 years behind schedule, I hope I am wrong.