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.