Al Gore Vs Newt Gingrich: Climate Change Showdown

al gore newt gingrich climate photo

Photo via Bloomberg

Earlier today, Al Gore testified before Congress on the importance of passing climate change legislation. He's thrown his support behind the Democrat's climate and energy bill that would include a carbon cap and trade, a national renewable energy standard, and would cut US greenhouse gas emissions by 83% by 2050. But next up to testify is GOP heavyweight and potential 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich—who fervently opposes the bill. It's a clash of the climate titans to be sure—Gore, who has likely done more to promote climate change awareness than anyone alive in one corner, and notorious Republican figurehead Gingrich in the other.

So what do both have to say about climate change legislation?

Let's start with Gore: (as reported by TreeHugger Alex)

"I believe this legislation has the moral significance equivalent to that of the civil rights legislation of the 1960s and the Marshall Plan of the late 1940s." We need, he said, to "restore America's leadership" by answering the "moral imperative" of climate change mitigation through cap-and-trade, smart grid development and research on carbon capture technologies, alongside job protection for those in conventional energy industries.

newt gingrich climate change photo

Photo via WSJ

And here's Gingrich (from Politico):

"Make no mistake about it: This bill amounts to a $1 [trillion] to $2 trillion energy tax levied on a struggling economy, which is destructive and wrong," Gingrich said in prepared testimony, echoing Republican concerns that a cap-and-trade system would increase electricity prices.

Strong words, Mr. Gingrich. But Gore sees it differently. He
argued that the climate change legislation could address the three largest threats facing the country: the climate crisis, the economic downturn and national security threats.

Newt fired back, calling the bill "'an energy tax' that will increase Americans' cost of living and kill jobs."

Gore agrees that the legislation must "include adequate provisions to assist those Americans who would unfairly face hardship." But he also recognizes that the approaching climate crisis is too great to stall further: he argued that "global warming has caused a number of environmental changes, including more severe hurricanes, increased flooding and the acidification of oceans."

Yet again, Gingrich disagrees. He feels that addressing the issue with government is the wrong path:

"Gingrich strenuously disagreed, saying it would create an unwieldy bureaucracy. That would be "an invitation to corruption," the former speaker said. "The idea that the Secretary of Energy is now going to be the czar of Jacuzzis is just absurd."

And so today marked the final day of hearings in what some termed the "mother of all climate weeks" in Congress. Which political star made the greater impact will remain to be seen—in whether or not the bill passes by Memorial Day, as Democratic leadership hopes that it will.

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