In Britain, climate ‘debate’ means something else

I WAS quite taken aback by the headline “Flooding reignites climate debate” regarding the severe, repeated flooding of the Somerset Levels area of England and debates about whether the British government has taken sufficient steps to protect the region (Page A5, Feb. 4). I’ve recently returned from a trip to Britain as part of a group of US state legislators invited there to discuss climate change. In Britain, unlike the United States, climate change has long passed beyond being debatable — it is the subject of comprehensive legislation that is now being implemented.

Even before Massachusetts enacted similar legislation, Britain enacted a groundbreaking national law requiring the ongoing reduction of carbon emissions from a 1990 baseline. That legislation, first introduced in 2005 by a legislator from the Conservative Party, was adopted in 2008 with broad, multi-partisan support. In the 650-member House of Commons, only five members voted against it.

Because of the 2008 Climate Act, Britain has become a world leader in addressing climate change, not just nationally, but internationally. It has made great strides in energy efficiency and has the world’s top offshore wind energy generating sector.


In the United States, we may continue to debate climate change. In Britain, the discussion has long since moved to achieving a low-carbon energy supply, and maximizing the economic benefits of this shift.

Denise Provost

State representative

Democrat of Somerville