Noting that the Republican presidential candidates who believe in climate change don’t actually support policies to address climate change, Dave Wiegel makes a good point:
One effect of Rick Perry et al shifting the Overton Window here — making it daring for a Republican to say that global warming might not be a fever dream cooked up by George Soros and the Trilateral Commission — is that all Republicans need to say to become green iconoclasts is to state the obvious. They can do it even as they walk away from policies that (however effective) represent the only attempts to, you know, deal with climate change.
Here’s Chris Christie saying he believes climate change is real:
In vetoing a bill (S2946) that would have required New Jersey to stay in a regional program intended to curb greenhouse gases — a program Christie plans to leave by the end of the year — the governor said “climate change is real.”
He added that “human activity plays a role in these changes” and that climate change is “impacting our state.”
And here’s Christie making sure climate change isn’t addressed:
Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday that New Jersey would become the first state to withdraw from a 10-state trading system, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, declaring it an ineffective way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
When we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science – Sciences has said about what is causing climate change and man’s contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position.
And here’s Huntsman saying he doesn’t support policies to address it:
But Mr. Huntsman also made it clear his politics still lean conservative. He no longer backs establishing a firm cap on the release of greenhouse gases or doing much in the short run to combat climate change, as long as unemployment remains high.
“Nothing should stand in the way of rebuilding our core,” he said.
Here’s Romney saying he believes in climate change:
He told voters in New Hampshire that the world is getting warmer, humans are contributing, and “it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases.”
And here’s Romney saying he doesn’t support policies to address it:
I think we may have made a mistake, we have made a mistake is what I believe, in saying that the EPA should regulate carbon emissions. I don’t think that was the intent of the original legislation, and I don’t think carbon is a pollutant in the sense of harming our bodies. We can agree to disagree … My view is that the EPA getting into carbon and regulating carbon has gone beyond the original intent of the legislation.
As Steve Benen pointed out in June, professing a belief in climate change but refusing to do anything about it isn’t a very smart political strategy, since it alienates both sides and pleases no one.
Unfortunately, the phenomenon of Republicans who claim to adhere to mainstream climate science but oppose all viable policy proposals for addressing it isn’t new. I addressed it in a piece on Open Left two years ago:
But there is a new brand of climate change denial that is now more relevant to the current policy debate. I’m talking about organizations and politicians who say they are concerned about climate change but do whatever is in their power to make sure it is not addressed. I’m talking about groups like the United States Chamber of Commerce, which is currently hemorrhaging members and taking major hits to its credibility. While the Chamber claims it “continues to support Federal climate legislation”, it is actually continuing its 17-year old campaign against it. Representative Ed Markey on Thursday issued a point-by-point explanation of how his legislation, which the House passed in June, meets all of the Chamber’s criteria for successful legislation. Energy Secretary Chu even took a few shots on Thursday, but the ever-defiant chamber remains unrepentant.
George W. Bush was ahead of his time on this tactic, claiming to accept the science by the end of his administration while continuing to insist on voluntary measures as the only solution. But current members of Congress who adopt such a stance are of primary concern now. Two Republican Senators who I believe have already tipped their hands on this are Lisa Murkowski and Lamar Alexander.
Consider Senator Murkowski. She told the Alaska Municipal League’s Climate Change Conference last year that she is the “first to admit that climate change is a serious concern”, emphasizing the specific impacts climate change has already had on Alaska’s economy and “way of life.” Yet here is her most direct statement on Kerry-Boxer so far:
“We must determine how to balance environmental progress with economic growth,” said Murkowski. “Our economy is already struggling-now is not the time to enact a bill that impose financial burdens that extent of which we don’t know for sure.”
Worse still, Murkowski and her staff are engaging in an increasingly desperate misinformation campaign to confuse voters about the costs of clean energy legislation.
I find it amazing that the Republican candidates haven’t yet been asked what their plans are for addressing climate change. Presumably, in one of the upcoming debates, Huntsman or Romney will have to answer to this.
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