Republicans Tired Of Climate Change Deniers Launch Initiative For Global Warming Action, Carbon Price

Former GOP Rep. Bob Inglis is “urging conservatives to stop denying that humans are contributing to global warming.”

Inglis, a South Carolina Republican beaten by the Tea Party in 2010,  is launching the “Energy and Enterprise Initiative” at George Mason University to push “conservative solutions to America’s energy and climate challenges.”

The National Journal (subs. req’d) reports:

The campaign will push one policy: a new tax on carbon pollution or gasoline consumption, paired with a cut in the income or payroll tax, creating a revenue-neutral, market-driven solution to an environmental problem while cutting taxes that conservatives dislike.

In short, the party of monolithic knee-jerk climate denial turns out to be bilithic. Okay, technically, a bilith is “a prehistoric monument composed of two stones usu. constituting a pillar capped by a slab.”

And it’s true that the national GOP is now prehistoric when it comes to climate science (see National Journal: “The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones”). But as recently as 2008, climate change was not a hyper-politicized issue — the presidential candidates’ position on climate science was a nonissue since both agreed on the science. Republicans today, however, have become synonymous with climate denialism, staying silent as the country bears the hottest 12 months on record.

But we at Climate Progress prefer to see the glass as 1/10 full rather than 9/10 empty — or, if you prefer a more optimistic spin, a glass that’s completely full (but mostly with air). After all, this new initiative isn’t just Inglis:

On its own, Inglis’s voice might not be enough to change the Republican conversation about climate change. But he has the support of Gregory Mankiw, economic advisor to the Mitt Romney campaign and the former chief economist of President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers; Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the influential conservative think tank American Action Forum, former head of Bush’s Council on Economic Advisers, and economic adviser to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign; Art Laffer, the prominent conservative economist and former senior adviser to President Reagan; and George Shultz, Reagan’s secretary of State, along with a slew of other conservative economic thinkers.

We have previously noted that “Bipartisan Support Grows for Carbon Price as Part of Debt Deal.” And not only has Americans’ understanding of global warming rebounded to 2009 levels, but, an April poll found that “75 Percent of Americans Support Regulating CO2 As A Pollutant, 60 Percent Support Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax.” And that means a lot of non-Tea-Party Republicans support serious climate action.

Indeed, Inglis said in an interview with Grist’s David Roberts, that he believes there are conservatives “in foxholes on this hill,” who are remaining silent in order to avoid the Tea Party’s fire. In the short-term any climate legislation is near impossible, and Inglis looks to 2015 or 2016 for policy change.

Although Romney’s economic adviser supports the campaign, the candidate falls into the latter category Inglis describes, where “attacking the science is an easier way to dispense with the question” of how to change behavior. A Romney administration would make 2015 look far-fetched. But if there is an Obama second term, a carbon price could be considered much sooner, whenever there is a debt deal or tax reform package.

32 Responses to Republicans Tired Of Climate Change Deniers Launch Initiative For Global Warming Action, Carbon Price

  1. M Tucker says:

    So Republicans will work to end fossil fuel use? They will actually work to put oil and coal companies out of business? Do not believe a single one. They will say anything.

  2. Leif says:

    If Obama does not get out in front soon will the GOP get the credit for the policy of rational tax reform in the end? Bizarre!

  3. j.w. says:

    While i agree with M Tucker to the extent that i’d like to see evidence of their actions, in the meantime, i am more encouraged by the symbolism of their actions. This IS as historic an occasion as Fox News’ linking of the Colarado fires to climate change. In itself it doesn’t change much immediately, but the import of the recognition it gives is huge.
    More, please!
    Support these recent developments, please – both Fox News’ honesty attack, and these conservative party trend-buckers.

  4. Anderlan says:

    Inglis: ‘of how to change behavior.’

    Way to freak conservatives out with your lingo, Bob. (It’s almost as bad as saying ‘carbon’ instead of the much clearer and less pedagog-able ‘fossil carbon’.)

    We need to change energy technology, and increase energy market players, not vaguely ‘change behavior’, whatever that means. He’s right, though, whatever you call it, it’s hard, because of the practically infinite money those who stand to lose have to throw around.

  5. Buzz B says:

    This is indeed encouraging. The line of discussion with which I have had the most success with conservatives is this:
    We currently tax things (having a job (income tax), creating jobs (corporate tax), owming a home (property tax), and engaging in economic activity (sales tax)) that are good for society. Why not tax things instead that cost society as a whole money — tax alcohol and tobacco and fatty, unhealthy food and environmental degradation and gasoline and, here it is, carbon emissions? Conservatives seem to dig that spin; this guy does.

    If I had a million dollars to bet, I’d guess a revenue-neutral carbon tax was coming your way within the next 5-10 years.

  6. Dan Ives says:

    “But if there is an Obama second term, a carbon price could be considered much sooner, whenever there is a debt deal or tax reform package.”

    It’s almost certain that the big debt/tax deal will come in the lame duck session (due to the whole “fiscal cliff” nonsense and the expiring Bush/Obama tax cuts). So why, exactly, is a second Obama term necessary?

  7. facts lean left says:

    Are you kidding? Obama is necessary for the preservation of the Republic.

  8. MikeFitz says:

    This is indeed good news. It shows that there are some Republicans who won’t ideology get in the way of reality. I am praying that enough of them wake up in time to help this nation avoid climate catastrophe.

  9. Gillian King says:

    Smart tax reform rebalances the tax system away from taxes on income towards taxes on consumption.

    Why tax good things when you can tax bad things, like emissions?

    Countries that are serious about reducing carbon emissions will use their tax system to change behaviour.

  10. Dan Ives says:

    Oh, you again. The guy who doesn’t understand the law of supply and demand. Yawn.

  11. Mike Morton says:

    Its easy to be pessimistic when you read something like this, but I would like to think of this as a small step in bringing down the wall of denial that is so prevalent in politics today. It may be easy for Inglis to get involved with the revenue nuetral carbon fee system since he has already lost an election to a Tea Party candidate and probably has no plans to run for office again soon. Hving Mankiw on board during the campaign season is much more significant. While their approach is different than the one advocated by Citizens Climate Lobby, where the fees are distributed back to citizens through dividends, its at least a step forward.

  12. Bill Walker says:

    This is coming out of the same George Mason University that ridiculously delayed, and then muffed, their investigation of the rampant plagiarism in the Wegman Report. (see GMU contradictory decisions on Wegman: Plagiarism in CSDA, but not in 2006 congressional report). Color me skeptical.

  13. Ken Barrows says:

    In light of the nature of the problem, isn’t this approach a tad inadequate?

  14. Pete says:

    Revenue-neutral carbon taxes have been proposed before. But what happens if Democrats lend their support here and genuinely embrace a Republican idea? See cap-and-trade (originally the market-based solution as an alternative to command-and-control). See the individual insurance mandate.

  15. David Lewis says:

    Mankiw said he supported Waxman-Markey if the rights to emit were auctioned. He called on Obama to veto if the Senate passed because it didn’t. His NY Times opinion piece here

    After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, this guy would have opposed increasing military spending unless it was done his way.

  16. The glass is full of air… hot air.

  17. Lori says:

    I can certainly understand the cynicism here, but I’m going to believe the ex-Senator is sincere here. This summer is less than half over and is already pretty shocking and terrifying. Only the most ignorant and dysfunctional among us will continue to deny logic if not their own senses. Let’s hope that is a manageable minority (ie ignorable) and soon.

  18. ANGRY BADGER says:

    Go back and look at the Nov. 2010 climate hearing entitled “A Rational Discussion of Climate Change” that Bob Inglis co-chaired with Dr. Brian Baird. You have to dig into the C-Span archives to find it, but for those who do, it will be a very enlightening 3 hours. Inglis’ comments from the committee bench were sharp, insightful and, I believe, absolutely sincere. I don’t like the current conservatism, but I think Bob Inglis is an ally: somebody who can assure those of his political persuation that it’s OK to confront climate change and ocean acidification. Friends of mine in the movement have met him and respect him. This is a step in the right direction.

  19. Anne Butterfield says:

    j.w. — you said “This IS as historic an occasion as Fox News’ linking of the Colarado fires to climate change.”

    Can you (or anyone) give more data about this? I must see the clip. This is big news.

  20. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Perhaps this is the sort of thing Obama has been waiting for? Can work across the Congress and isolate the Tea Party? ME

  21. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It is conceivable that rational, sane, human beings, who, for some reason, perhaps misplaced sentimentality or loyalty, call themselves Republicans, still exist, somewhere. We ought to encourage them, because their colleagues are going to give them merry hell.

  22. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Man -I know my Gog and Magog, Revelations being my favourite bedtime reading and I have a nice tattoo of John the Divine on my…next to Aleister Crowley…but who in the name of ectoplasm is Pedagog?

  23. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    That’s not ‘smart’ tax reform-that’s socially regressive tax reform. Consumption taxes target the poorer members of society, a group whose numbers are burgeoning in the USA. What you need are wealth, luxury consumption and land taxes, but the plutocrats who are your real rulers will have none of that, full stop.

  24. bob h says:

    There are other Conservative Parties around the world, and the Republicans are the only deniers among them. The British Conservatives are incredibly green.

    I thought conservative meant keeping the world as it is?

  25. M Tucker says:

    We have seen Republicans reverse course on what had seemed to be “deeply held” beliefs. We have seen this done by senior Republicans in congress in order to appease all those who will deliver “merry hell.” They will not only completely reverse their positions they will deny they ever said otherwise. You can try to work with them but never forget they cannot ever be trusted. A party without honor.

  26. Tami Kennedy says:

    The political cartoon of this is a ‘roast turkey’ with head in the sand regarding climate change. We never require 100% assurance for effective prevention, including climate change. How close to 100% does the GOP need to get?

  27. Tami Kennedy says:

    The GOP may not admit it or spend much work on it but they have to listen to lessening denial from the big oil cash purse. Big oil assumes climate is only an engineering or science problem they are very capable of handling. The industry is at least acknowledging there is an issue.

  28. Tami Kennedy says:

    Maybe the head is in the sand of expanding desert globally.

  29. VBobier says:

    It’s 112F outside here with all of 9% humidity, usually temps don’t get this hot, oh sure they do get to 100F to maybe 108F here in the desert, Wednesday the temp is supposed to get to 113F. Inside it’s 84F as the swamp cooler needs a new 69″ V-belt and I currently can’t afford a new one, I’m broke & I’m not going out in 112F heat, I’m severely disabled, plus I have My cat to think about, even though a 69″ v-belt would only cost $5.70 before taxes over at the Home Depot, earlier the park said they’d get one, just not when and so it’s too warm/hot to cook dinner in the oven as I can’t run the cooler on high at all without risking the motor burning out, I called the managers office, but their’s no one there, doesn’t do any good setting the knob to high either as low works better, barely. Plus the coolest spot in the house is at the PC at that’s also where the swamp cooler is at, not over in My recliner.

  30. Artful Dodger says:

    Not true, Bob. The Conservative Party of Canada currently controls the National Government there, and make the Koch’s Bros. look like Randolph and Mortimer Duke. Canada is hell-bent of developing tarsands and are gutting environmental review to fast-track multiple tarsands pipelines. Keystone XL and Northern Gateway are just the ones in the news.

  31. Artful Dodger says:

    During an interview in Duran in Nov 2011, Environment Minister Peter Kent questioned the goal of “limiting global warming to 2%”. One month after Durban, Canada withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol. Denial? Undoubtedly.

  32. Huon says:

    Some Tea Party supporters, such as myself, will back this initiative enthusiastically. I was against cap and trade as too intrusive, too bureaucratic, and too costly. But a moderate, revenue-neutral carbon tax makes a great deal of sense.