Climate

Chris Christie Makes Big Admission On Climate Change

CREDIT: AP Photo/Mel Evans

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers his budget address, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, in Trenton, N.J.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie admitted that he thinks climate change is real and that humans contribute to it at an event in New Hampshire last week.

But Christie, a likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate, also added that he thinks the degree to which humans contribute is questionable, according to MSNBC.

“I think global warming is real. I don’t think that’s deniable,” he said. “And I do think human activity contributes to it.”

Christie also said that the U.S. or a single group of states “can’t be acting unilaterally…when folks in China are doing things to the environment that we would never be done in our country.”

“There’s no use in denying global warming exists. The question is what we do to deal with it,” Christie said.

Admitting that climate change exists isn’t a first for Christie, who has said he’ll make a decision as to whether or not to run for president in May or June. In 2011, Christie also said that climate change is real and is impacting New Jersey.

Based on Christie’s past policy decisions as governor, however, there’s not much evidence he would act on climate change as president. As governor, Christie withdrew New Jersey from the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade program aimed at reducing emissions, in 2011. Last year, Christie called RGGI “a completely useless plan” and said that he “would not think of rejoining it.” Christie even vetoed an attempt by the New Jersey state legislature to rejoin RGGI. He did so despite the fact that climate change poses multiple threats to the state: Reinsurance company Swiss Re warned last year that New Jersey and other Mid-Atlantic states could experience stronger storms than Superstorm Sandy in the future, and the state is also vulnerable to sea level rise.

New Jersey also doesn’t have a statewide climate change plan — the state is the only one on the eastern seaboard to not have one in place or be in the process of developing one, according to the Georgetown Climate Center.

Regardless of whether he would act on climate change, Christie’s comments on the issue put him at odds with some of the Republican Presidential candidates. Marco Rubio has long doubted that climate change is occurring, saying last year that he didn’t agree that “somehow, there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate.” Ted Cruz holds similar views, telling Late Night host Seth Meyers in March that the climate hasn’t warmed in over a decade — a trend that’s been attributed largely to heat being absorbed by the oceans.

“My view actually is simple. Debates on this should follow science, and should follow data,” Cruz said. “And many of the alarmists on global warming, they’ve got a problem because the science doesn’t back them up.”

Rand Paul appears to be more moderate on climate change, but, like Christie, there’s little evidence to say he’d act on the issue as president.

And still, Christie’s confirmation that he does think climate change is real is a positive step, according to NextGen Climate, a group headed by billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer (who’s also a member of the Center for American Progress’ board).

“We hope to see Gov. Christie lay out his specific plans to address this critical issue soon,” NextGen said in a statement. “By standing up and providing strong solutions to reduce carbon pollution, our leaders ensure we not only mitigate the impacts of climate change, but also strengthen our economy and create good-paying jobs across the country.”