The UK’s New Secretary of Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, has this to say about wind farms: “I personally quite enjoy seeing them.” A Conservative Party MP, Rudd received a promotion last month when David Cameron’s Tories beat out Labour. Less bland than her sentiments about wind farms are her policy proposals for them: They will receive no new federal subsidies, she says, and decisions on whether to build them will rest in the hands of local governments.
Therein lies the contradiction of Rudd, a former investment banker and self-professed “Thatcherite when it comes to climate change”: She believes ardently in global warming and the necessity of mitigating it—so long as those efforts don’t dip into public coffers.
To U.S. progressives, a Department of Climate Change like Rudd’s might sound like a dream, let alone a conservative heading it who accepts the reality of anthropogenic global warming. This winter, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chair of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, threw a snowball on the Senate floor to disprove the 97 percent of “eggheads” in “science laboratories” who cite evidence of climate change. Not all U.S. conservative denialism is as quaint as Inhofe’s: Oil barons Charles and David Koch have poured $79 million into talking heads, bogus scientific studies and front groups like Americans for Prosperity—all aimed at convincing the public that climate change is a bugaboo. A Drexel University study found that between 2003 and 2010, conservative foundations invested $900 million in climate-change denial campaigns.