The political experience of other advanced democracies is a flashing red light. In Australia last month, the opposition lost what was supposed to be “the climate change” election, against all expectations. Polling showed that about 60% of Australians called climate change “a serious and pressing problem” and thought the government should address it “even if this involves significant costs.”
It turned out that it was one thing to tell that to pollsters and another to vote to make it happen. The opposition promised a 45% reduction in carbon emissions with no serious pain, while the conservative governing coalition focused on the cost — and won.
In France, gas hikes as part of a government plan to reduce carbon emissions by 75% sparked the yellow-vest movement in car-dependent suburbs and towns and had to be ignominiously reversed.
The politics of climate change are bound to remain problematic. The voters most opposed to the costs of climate action tend to be the kind of “deplorables” most easily dismissed by center-left parties at their own peril: voters in rural Queensland in Australia, economically distressed residents of unfashionable areas of France, working-class voters in the American Rust Belt.