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Obama is going to Alaska because Alaska is on the front line of climate change, and it is where we are seeing the impacts of a changing climate on human beings really dramatically already, right now. Obama wants to draw attention to the fact that it is a climate that is changing right now.

We are seeing coastal villages having to move because the absence of ice means that there is a lot of erosion on their shore. We are beginning to see changes in the patterns of fish moving as the temperature of the waters change. We are seeing animals being affected, we are seeing 100,000 walruses on a beach in Alaska for instance because they can’t find any ice that’s near enough. So we are beginning to see some dramatic changes, and that is a sign of what’s going to go on in the rest of the world if we go on allowing the climate to change.

Obama in giving the go ahead for Shell to drill in the Arctic has clearly upset a lot of environmentalists, and has caused some people to question whether he is serious in his attempts to deal with climate change. I think the rest of the evidence suggests that there is no question about his seriousness and his willingness to put himself out. I think expecting politicians in any area to be completely consistent is pretty optimistic. What really matters is the overall direction of travel, and in that sense Obama has been more clear and more consistent than probably any other politician in the world.