GOP Contenders and the Climate Issue

Flat-out denialism seems to be fading in the face of reality.

The first Republican presidential debate will be on Wednesday.  I doubt moderators will ask about climate change. It turns out, however, that there’s some spread of views among the candidates. Apart from Trump, each of them is jockeying to pick up enough GOP support to be a serious contender. Their views, which the NY Times has helpfully collected, provide insight into possible directions for GOP energy policy. We’re all familiar with Trump’s views, so I’ll focus on the rest of the pack.

Given the horrendous weather events we are now seeing, the candidates have largely given up on the idea of simply denying the reality of climate change. Trump and Vivek Ramaswamy seem to be the closest to straight-out denial, using terms like “Chinese hoax” (Trump) and “cult” (Ramaswamy). So far as I can tell, all of the other candidates acknowledge that the climate is changing, and none of them deny that human activities are playing a role.

What about solutions?  The two most popular seem to be nuclear power and carbon capture. Nuclear is endorsed by Ramaswamy, Asa Hutchinson, and Will Hurd. Carbon capture is supported by Nikki Haley, Doug Bergum, and Chris Christie. Several of the candidates endorse an “all of the above” strategy, with Hutchinson supporting  private development of renewables,   Only Francis Suarez and Christie seem to support emission cuts.

There are a couple of other interesting points. None of the candidates seems to like economic incentives for clean energy. But the Inflation Reduction Act doesn’t seem to have aroused the kind of hostility that made repeal of Obamacare a GOP rallying cry a decade ago.  Correspondingly, none of the candidates seems to be demanding restrictions on renewable energy, though Trump has long groused about wind turbines.

I’ve focused on the non-Trump candidates, but of course Trump is by far the frontrunner. His website rhapsodizes about “our country’s God-given abundance of oil, natural gas, and clean coal.” He has about 55% support in primary polls, though that also means that 45% of GOP voters haven’t ruled out other options. He’s the obvious favorite to win the nomination, and his supporters seem unfazed by his status as an indicted felon. The positions taken by the other candidates do indicate, however, that GOP positions on climate aren’t quite as monolithic as you might think.





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Reader Comments

3 Replies to “GOP Contenders and the Climate Issue”

  1. Dan, this is one of the most important posts you have ever made, I just hope we haven’t run out of time, as current climate disasters around the world warn daily, to demonstrate the premier expertise of UC to inform, educate and motivate the public to demand/take actions with the greatest sense of urgency in history.

    I hope and pray your most excellent recommendation to reorganize all Berkeley climate change resources to make this happen, again with the greatest urgency in history, to save the human race and produce/perpetuate an acceptable quality of life for all of our newest generations.

    Thank You Prof. Farber, for your continuous leadership efforts.


    California Braces For ‘Life-Threatening’ Floods As ‘Hurriquake’ Unsettles The State

    Dan, your post on Washington political failures to protect human life exposes a root cause of our failure to protect the future for our newest generations because the Power of Money dominates too many, if not all, institutions.

    Prof. Farber, PLEASE make sure UC doesn’t become another example that fails to protect the human race. Berkeley in the 60s taught me to Fight Like Hell For the Human Race, and I hope we still have time for UC to practice what they preached in the 60s.

  3. Darn, No Response to the “Impure Public” AGAIN!!!

    Tragically, this can only mean that UC really has no solutions they can get implemented in time and you are avoiding that most hellacious reality check in the history of the human race.

    God Help Our Newest Generations because this can only mean that none of our human institutions are capable of protecting the human race from The Power of Money that all institutions are subservient to.

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

READ more