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3rd May 2024

Celebrating Earth Day – an Atlantic Divide

Dinesh Dhamija


How important is the environment in the US versus the UK?

This Earth Day – which fell on Monday 22 April – President Biden announced a $7 billion solar energy plan to benefit 900,000 American households, generate 200,000 jobs and achieve $8 billion energy savings.

Rishi Sunak promised to ban wet wipes containing plastic. In the States, it’s a whole week of events: Tuesday is clean water, Wednesday is clean transport, Thursday clean energy and Friday clean air. In the UK, Scotland ditched a major climate commitment, and the British government was busy trying to deport immigrants to Rwanda.

With elections looming on both sides of the Atlantic, the environment is a hot topic for both electorates. What’s alarming in the UK is how the Conservative Party, which you might hope would endorse strong environmental action, to conserve the natural world, has capitulated to the oil and motoring lobbies.

In desperation, Prime Minister Sunak spotted that if he championed drivers frustrated by environmental regulations, it could win him a few votes. Never mind the growing cost to the nation’s health from road pollution.

For President Biden, taking decisive environmental action sets him far apart from the environmental vandalism of his predecessor and forthcoming opponent Donald Trump, who withdrew America from the Paris Agreement and routinely calls climate change a ‘hoax’.

Americans love personal freedom, so the environmental debate is a tricky one for them. Do they forever side with big oil, so that they continue to drive polluting cars and run businesses unfettered by regulations, or do they see freedom from dirty air and water, and potential salvation from the many threats of climate change as more important?

Recent droughts, wildfires, floods, and heatwaves across the States appear to have registered with many voters. A survey by the Pew Research Centre found that 54 per cent of Americans view climate change as a ‘major threat to the country’s well-being’ and 67 per cent think the country should prioritise renewable energy.

There’s a deep divide between Democrats (90 per cent are in favour of renewables) and Republicans (just 42 per cent). So that makes Biden’s position easier to understand.

In the UK, there’s a similar pattern: 84 per cent of Labour voters think man-made climate change is real, versus 65 per cent of Conservative voters. You might hope that Rishi Sunak would harness that 65 per cent, rather than pander to the climate denying 35 per cent.

The road to net zero and to averting climate disaster will not be smooth. It will take bravery and leadership from leaders of all stripes.

So, let’s celebrate Earth Day with renewed vigour this year and hope the message gets heard.

Dinesh Dhamija founded, built and sold online travel agency, before serving as a Member of the European Parliament. Since then, he has created the largest solar PV and hydrogen businesses in Romania. Dinesh’s latest book is The Indian Century – buy it from Amazon at


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