Bush the Greenie

7 March 2005

In this  week's edition of The Economist, "Lexington" asks Should George Bush go green? (subscription only).

Embracing greenery, says Lexington, "would be good for Mr Bush, good for the Republican Party, good for relations with Europe, and, above all, good for the environment".

Many people would say Bush describing himself as an environmentalist  sounds ludicrous. But is the prospect really so way out?

As Steven Hayward, a green conservative at the American Enterprise Institute, points out that the environment is for conservatives what defence is for liberals: they don't feel comfortable with it. 

Lexington goes on:

"Yet Mr Bush has a surprising amount of credibility with Main Street America on the subject. A recent Gallup/CNN/ USA Today poll found that 49& of Americans approve of his handling of the environment. Moreover, the balance of power in the conservative movement may be changing. Some neo-cons worry about Americ's  over-dependence on such an unstable region as the Middle East. Some fiscal  convservatives worry about the impact of America's appetite for importer oil on the dollar.And some evangelical Christians worry that mercury pollution is damaging the unborn, and pointedly ask what Jesus would drive. Support for strict environmental regulation among evangelicals has jumped from 45% in 2000 to 52% last year".

Lexington picks up on an argument by the Brookings Institution's Gregg Easterbrook, previously highlighted here on openDemocracy, that cap and trade systems can deliver both economic and environmental benefits.

So where to look for green shoots in the Republican party?  One place is the Green Elephants, more mundanely known as Republicans for Environmental Protection.

No more "Grab their gas and kick their ass"?

And maybe lefties should hold their scoffing.  As Anne-Marie Slaughter of Princeton argues in a forthcoming article for openDemocracy responding to David Held's cosmopolitan manifesto,"if we continue to define the challenges of global governance as a struggle between progressive cosmopolitan forces and conservative, nationalist ones, then cosmopolitanism will loose".

If anthropogenic climate change is a fraction as serious as the overwhelming body of scientific evidence indicates, then all sorts of unlikely coalitions will be necessary.

(A note: Gregg Easterbrook has been asked to take part in openDemocracy's debate on the politics of climate change from April to June this year, ahead of the G8 summit)

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