Jon Huntsman: Climate Change Is Real, But ‘This Isn’t The Moment’ To Act

Jon Huntsman, Jr., Obama’s former ambassador to China and a potential contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, believes in global warming — but not enough to do anything about it. Unlike the rest of the field, Huntsman recognizes the scientific fact that fossil fuel pollution is dangerously heating our planet. In a recent interview with Time magazine, Huntsman said that “I respect science and the professionals behind the science”:

This is an issue that ought to be answered by the scientific community; I’m not a meteorologist. All I know is 90 percent of the scientists say climate change is occurring. If 90 percent of the oncological community said something was causing cancer we’d listen to them. I respect science and the professionals behind the science so I tend to think it’s better left to the science community – though we can debate what that means for the energy and transportation sectors.

However, Huntsman doesn’t believe that the United States should do anything about climate pollution:

Cap-and-trade ideas aren’t working; it hasn’t worked, and our economy’s in a different place than five years ago. Much of this discussion happened before the bottom fell out of the economy, and until it comes back, this isn’t the moment.

In fact, cap-and-trade systems developed under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush saved the ozone layer and cleaned up acid rain. The Northeast’s regional carbon cap-and-trade system is boosting state economies and reducing pollution. Europe’s carbon market is meeting its targets, helping clean energy industries throughout the European Union.

If Huntsman actually listened to the scientific community, he would know that the nation’s scientists believe that there are “many reasons why it is prudent to act now. ” In a new report commissioned by the U.S. Congress, a committee of the National Research Council — representing the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine — concludes that there is a “pressing need for substantial action to limit the “environmental, economic, and humanitarian risks of climate change.” Committee chair Albert Carnesale, chancellor emeritus of UCLA and dean emeritus of the Kennedy School of Government, explains:

It is our judgment that the most effective strategy is to begin ramping down emissions as soon as possible.

Huntsman also argued that putting a price on carbon pollution would be “putting additional burdens on the pillars of growth.” In fact, investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy creates four times as many jobs as the oil and coal industry. The committee of the nation’s top scientists found “the most efficient way to accelerate emissions reductions is through a nationally uniform price on greenhouse gas emissions with a price trajectory sufficient to spur investments in energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies. ”

(HT Ben Geman)

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