Republican presidential candidate John Kasich acknowledged humans’ contribution to climate change Saturday, though he stopped short of accepting that humans are the main driver of the global problem.
“I know that human beings affect the climate,” Kasich said at a Vermont town hall event Saturday, in response to a question from a scientist in the audience. “I know it’s an apostasy in the Republican Party to say that. I guess that’s what I’ve always been — being able to challenge some of the status quo.”
He added, however, that he didn’t know “how much individuals affect the climate, but here’s what I do know: I know we need to develop all of the renewables, and we need to do it in an orderly way.” Kasich singled out wind and solar, and said the United States also needed to improve battery technology. “We need to be promoting the renewable energies, we need to have more efficiency, and we need to live respecting the resources in our environment.”
Kasich’s clarification that he doesn’t know how much people impact climate change has emerged as a common caveat in the presidential race — at least among some of the comparatively moderate Republicans, several of whom have exited the race. Jeb Bush, who dropped out of the presidential race over the weekend, has said that he doesn’t “think the science is clear of what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted.” Chris Christie, who has also dropped out, has similarly said that he thinks climate change is happening, though he’s not entirely sure how much humans contribute.
Among scientists, there’s little confusion over humans’ contribution: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported in 2014 that it is “extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in GHG concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together.”
Kasich has said before that he accepts the fact that climate change is happening, though he’s stopped short of calling for strong action on the issue. “I am a believer — my goodness I am a Republican — I happen to believe there is a problem with climate change. I don’t want to overreact to it, I can’t measure it all, but I respect the creation that the Lord has given us and I want to make sure we protect it,” Kasich said in 2012.
Then, in 2015, the Ohio governor said that humans’ impact on the environment is a “legitimate debate” in response to a question on whether he agrees that climate change is man-made and that humans should do something about it. “We don’t want to destroy people’s jobs based on some theory that is not proven,” Kasich added. Later last year, he said that he didn’t know whether it was scientifically proven that carbon emissions are causing climate change.
Despite expressing support for renewable energy in Vermont this weekend, Kasich signed a bill in 2014 that froze Ohio’s Renewable Energy Standards for two years. Last year, however, Kasich did say that the idea of freezing the standards indefinitely was “unacceptable,” and that he wanted to “work with the Ohio General Assembly to craft a bill that supports a diverse mix of reliable, low-cost energy sources while preserving the gains we have made in the state’s economy.”
Kasich finished in fifth place in the South Carolina primary, and is polling fourth overall, according to Real Clear Politics.
Kasich’s fellow Republican presidential contenders all deny climate science: Ted Cruz has said climate change is “not science; it’s religion,” Marco Rubio and Ben Carson have said the climate is always changing, and Donald Trump has called climate change a hoax.