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May 032013

Tansworld Paper No.24

by Bernice Lee and Diarmuid Torney

Much has been written on the conflicting range of domestic interests that have driven the politics of climate change in the US, and on the potential implications of the US shale gas revolution for US energy and climate outlook. Less analysed is the long term impact of extreme weather events on US public perceptions of climate change. With such extreme events becoming more prevalent, the question arises whether extreme weather could help re-shape US politics and policies on climate change. This paper discusses the political implications of extreme weather events in the US, and the associated public opinion changes. It highlights the challenges confronting the US environmental community in putting in place comprehensive climate policies, and explores how a higher level of awareness on the cost of preparedness and responses presents opportunities to reshape the public narrative around climate change and to mobilise grassroots constituencies in undertaking climate action.