Making a Republican case for climate action

As the climate change crisis worsens, a diverse range of voices are speaking out for the United States to take action. Two hundred evangelical scientists recently made a Christian case for climate action, a military report critiqued US climate inaction, and moderate Republicans both inside and outside of politics have voiced their frustration about climate inaction.

Joining these voices are three prominent Republicans and former administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, William D. Ruckelshaus, Lee M. Thomas, and Christine Todd Whitman who have penned an important op-ed in The New York Times arguing for a Republican case for climate action.

They start by summarizing the crisis:

There is no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts: our world continues to warm, with the last decade the hottest in modern records, and the deep ocean warming faster than the earth’s atmosphere. Sea level is rising. Arctic Sea ice is melting years faster than projected.

The costs of inaction are undeniable. The lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous. And the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller: delay could mean that warming becomes “locked in.”

And then give their backing to a way forward:

A market-based approach, like a carbon tax, would be the best path to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, but that is unachievable in the current political gridlock in Washington. Dealing with this political reality, President Obama’s June climate action plan lays out achievable actions that would deliver real progress. He will use his executive powers to require reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the nation’s power plants and spur increased investment in clean energy technology, which is inarguably the path we must follow to ensure a strong economy along with a livable climate.

The president also plans to use his regulatory power to limit the powerful warming chemicals known as hydrofluorocarbons and encourage the United States to join with other nations to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase out these chemicals. The landmark international treaty, which took effect in 1989, already has been hugely successful in solving the ozone problem.

Rather than argue against his proposals, our leaders in Congress should endorse them and start the overdue debate about what bigger steps are needed and how to achieve them — domestically and internationally.

When so many Republicans in Congress outright deny the reality of climate change and both Republicans and some Democrats have signed a “No Climate Tax” pledge to the Koch Brothers and with the Republican-led House in a record-setting state of inaction on even the basic responsibilities of governing, it remains unlikely that Congressional action on climate will happen anytime soon. However, that is what makes it so encouraging to hear from Republicans like these calling for Congress to support President Obama's climate plan. To fully address a global crisis of this scale will take members of both political parties working together. And if calls for action like this op-ed don't get Congress to act, we must elect new members that will.

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Tags: Barack Obama | Carbon Dioxide | Carbon Emissions | Carbon Taxes | Global Climate Change

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