Gingrichs 20 years of global warming flip-flops


In 2004, Newt Gingrich said, “You can’t flip-flop and be Commander-In-Chief.

But Gingrich has turned out to be one of the champion flip-floppers of all time.  Before Obama got elected, Gingrich was trying to remake himself as an environmentalist (see “Note to media: Newt Gingrich is an eco-fraud“).  Now Brad Johnson has documented the full 20 years of flipping and flopping just on the climate issue.

Newt Gingrich really doesn’t like it when Barack Obama takes his advice. It’s not just true of intervention with Libya “” it’s also the case with fighting global warming pollution. In short, Newt was for carbon cap and trade, until Obama became president:

February 15, 2007: “I think if you have mandatory carbon caps combined with a trading system, much like we did with sulfur, and if you have a tax-incentive program for investing in the solutions, that there’s a package there that’s very, very good. And frankly, it’s something I would strongly support.” [Frontline, 2/15/07]

April 4, 2009: “And now, in 2009, instead of making energy cheaper””which would help create jobs and save Americans money””President Obama wants to impose a cap-and-trade regime. Such a plan would have the effect of an across-the-board energy tax on every American. That will make our artificial energy crisis even worse””and raising taxes during a deep economic recession will only accelerate American job losses.” [Newsweek, 4/4/09]

Gingrich’s full record on global warming is a series of epic flip-flops over more than two decades, with his positions mostly coinciding with whether the party holding the presidency is a Republican or a Democrat. Since 1989, when Gingrich supported aggressive climate action against “wasteful fossil fuel use,” until today, as he proposes abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen from 353 ppm to 391 ppm (from 26 percent above pre-industrial levels to 40 percent above), and the five-year global mean temperature anomaly has nearly doubled from 0.3°C to 0.56°C.


1989: Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) co-sponsors the ambitious Global Warming Prevention Act (H.R. 1078), which finds that “the Earth’s atmosphere is being changed at an unprecedented rate by pollutants resulting from human activities, inefficient and wasteful fossil fuel use, and the effects of rapid population growth in many regions,” that “global warming imperils human health and well-being” and calls for policies “to reduce world emissions of carbon dioxide by at least 20 percent from 1988 levels by 2000.” The legislation recognizes that global warming is a “major threat to political stability, international security, and economic prosperity.” [H.R. 1078, 6/15/1989]


1992: Gingrich calls the environmental proposals in Al Gore’s book Earth in Balancedevastatingly threatening to most American pocketbooks and jobs.” [National Journal, 9/5/92]1995: Gingrich’s budget shuts down climate action, killing the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment, NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth program, and NOAA global warming research. Carl Sagan asks, “Is it wise to close our eyes to a possibly serious danger to the planetary environment so as not to offend such companies and those members of Congress whose reelection campaigns they support?” [Los Angeles Times, 7/16/95]

1996: At a speech for the Detroit Economic Club, Gingrich mocks “Al Gore’s global warming,” citing “the largest snowstorm in New York City’s history”: “We were in the middle of budget negotiations; the football games were coming up and we noticed on the weather channel that an early symptom of Al Gore’s global warming was coming to the East Coast. And it does make you wonder sometimes, doesn’t it, how theoretical statisticians in the middle of the largest snowstorm in New York City’s history could stand there and say, ‘I don’t care what it’s doing. It’s going to get very hot soon.'” [FDCH Political Transcripts, 1/16/96]


1997: As Speaker of the House, Gingrich co-sponsors H. Con. Res. 151, which notes carbon dioxide is a “major greenhouse gas” that comes from “products whose manufacture consumes fossil fuels” and calls on the United States to “manage its public domain national forests to maximize the reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.” [H. Con. Res. 151, 9/10/1997]2007: Gingrich calls for a cap-and-trade system with tax incentives for clean energy. “I think if you have mandatory carbon caps combined with a trading system, much like we did with sulfur, and if you have a tax-incentive program for investing in the solutions, that there’s a package there that’s very, very good. And frankly, it’s something I would strongly support.” [Frontline, 2/15/07]

In a debate on climate policy with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Gingrich says “the evidence is sufficient that we should move towards the most effective possible steps to reduce carbon-loading of the atmosphere,” and that we should “do it urgently.” [ThinkProgress, 4/10/07]

2008: In an advertisement made for Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, Gingrich sat with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and said that “we do agree our country must take action to address climate change.” [We Campaign, 4/18/08]


2008: Defending himself to his conservative base, Gingrich then rejects climate science: “I don’t think that we have conclusive proof of global warming. And I don’t think we have conclusive proof that humans are at the center of it.” [, 4/22/08]In a Washington Post chat, Gingrich rejects a cap-and-trade system, saying it “would lead to corruption, political favoritism, and would have a huge impact on the economy.” He says he supports “tax credits for dramatically reducing carbon emissions.” [Washington Post, 4/17/08]

In a later post, Gingrich says, “I do not know if the climate is warming or not.” He also rejects Warner-Lieberman, a cap-and-trade system with tax incentives for clean energy, as “leftwing”: “I disagree with leftwing solutions like Warner-Lieberman, which ignore the economic and national security implications of their attempts to protect the environment.” [, 5/5/08]

“Last week, liberals in Congress voted for the equivalent of a $150 billion tax increase,” Gingrich wrote, of a decision to block oil shale development in Colorado. “The answer to high energy prices,” he said, is “so simple it could fit on a bumper sticker: Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less.” [Human Events, 5/20/08]

2009: In his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Gingrich attacks President Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal, claiming the president “mentioned in passing, using code words, so nobody would recognize it, he is for an energy tax.” [C-SPAN, 2/27/09]

In a Newsweek column, Gingrich calls Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal “an across-the-board energy tax on every American.” [Newsweek, 4/4/09]

Gingrich’s 527 organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future (ASWF), launches an anti-cap-and-trade campaign. “I hereby petition Congress to reject any and all legislation (or regulatory action by the EPA) that would enact new energy taxes and/or establish a national cap and trade system for carbon dioxide that would, as President Obama has said, cause electricity and other energy prices to ‘necessarily skyrocket.'” [ASWF, 5/28/09]

2011: Gingrich proposes abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency because of its “attempts to regulate greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, and thereby the entire American economy.” [ThinkProgress, 1/25/11]

— Brad Johnson, in a TP cross-post.

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9 Responses to Gingrichs 20 years of global warming flip-flops

  1. Prokaryotes says:

    Maybe if the world is lucky the next move is a Flip? Seriously my guess is, that would help at the polls.

  2. Kasra says:

    Newt can never seriously be considered an environmentalist, because of his dismantling of the Office of Technology Assessment as Speaker of the House in 1995. That alone, probably more than any other single action, has made efforts to communicate the urgency of action on climate change DOA, as it laid the groundwork for deniers to rely on fringe scientists and create a perpetual sense of uncertainty.

    Why can’t we bring back the Office of Technology Assessment. Why why why.

  3. Ao says:

    Gingrich’s history just belies Joe’s claim (excuse, really, for the Clinton administration’s lack of action) that in the 1990s there was no movement toward climate action among policymakers and that the science wasn’t fully understood in Washington. The fact that the science had progressed enough to even get Gingrich on board in 1989 (though he was a fickle flip-flopper) is a sign that the Clinton administration failed miserably on climate action.

  4. catman306 says:

    You have to expect a fish out of water to flip-flop for a while before making its final move. Put it on ice ’til dinner and get the pan ready. There will be a feast.

    Newt’s gonna get roasted.

  5. Polymerase says:

    While it’s tempting to rise to the bait of parsing the hypocrisy of someone like Gingrich (or Palin), is this really how we should be spending our time? I would like to see CP keep a closer editorial focus on directly influencing critical current events, such as the ongoing attack on the EPA. Reposting from other blogs is easy, but drawing easily distracted CP readers (like me) into reading about Gingrich (whose presidential chances are rapidly fading) may not be the most effective use of our time in battling climate change.

  6. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    I’ve also seen Gingrich testify to Congress, throwing doubt onto the dangers of ocean acidification. He said that he was something of an amateur-expert and knows that coral reefs will be fine.

  7. Richard Brenne says:

    Colorado’s Democratic ex-senators include Gary Hart with his PhD in political theory from Oxford and Tim Wirth with his PhD from Stanford. Gingrich, in stark contrast, strikes me as a comical and pathetic parody of an intellectual. After Gingrich’ doctoral
    dissertation “Belgian Racism in the Congo: How Can We Make It More So?” he went to West Southeast North Kennesaw State Chain Gang Junior College of Georgia to teach history, and now that discipline is exactly what he should be.

  8. climate undergrad says:


    Disagreed. I for one had no idea that someone like Newt supported climate action in the 80’s! I know of George Bush I’s famous climate-quote because of a few Naomi Oreskes presentations, but I did not realize the extent to which the issue had already appeared on the national stage.

    Plus, the Carl Sagan quote fully applies to 2011;

    “Is it wise to close our eyes to a possibly serious danger to the planetary environment so as not to offend such companies and those members of Congress whose reelection campaigns they support?”

    And afterall, mocking contrarians (especially when they are this outwardly hypocritical) is a good way to convince those less scientifically inclined.

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Gingrich is a model of intellectual rigour and consistency in comparison with Tony Abbott, the Leader of HM’s loyal Opposition in Australia. Abbott changes his position on anthropogenic climate change from day to day, and depending on the audience. He is a true denialist, having said delicately that the science is ‘crap’, but if he is not addressing his Dunning-Kruger heartland he will prevaricate and twist his habitually tortured verbiage into even more labyrinthine contortions to dissemble. The truth, naturally, is that being a Rightwing ‘true believer’, and denialism a matter of ideological quasi-religious revealed truth and unquestioning faith, he is like his former dark master, John Howard, who was heard to remark, after being enlightened by a US far Right think-tank guru that climate science was a conspiracy of ex-Communists to destroy capitalism, that he’.. had known it all along’.