GOP contender Jon Huntsman stuns right by embracing climate science, but still tries to appease them by flip-flopping to oppose any action

Huntsman: 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.

Jon Huntsman, Jr., Obama’s former ambassador to China and a potential contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, told Time he believes in the diagnosis climate scientists have made about global warming — he just refuses to embrace any treatment now.

His flip-flip to now oppose cap-and-trade — or any type of action now — however, isn’t enough to satisfy the right wing, with its anti-science litmus test. As The Politico reported:

American Spectator’s Chris Horner, RedState’s Daniel Horowitz and Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin all hit their blogs to attack Huntsman yesterday and questioned whether it makes him a loser in a GOP primary.

Horowitz wrote that Huntsman’s remarks to Time magazine, “can only mean that he is seeking the VP nomination for a Mike Bloomberg ticket.”


As Tim Pawlenty proudly observed in March, “Every one of us” running for president has flip-flopped on climate change. Huntsman is no different, as ThinkProgress points out in its post, “Jon Huntsman’s Secret Life As A Progressive”:

Supported cap-and-trade: Huntsman supported a cap-and-trade policy to limit the country’s carbon emissions. He signed Utah onto the Western Climate Initiative that would lead to a cap-and-trade system, and during the 2008 gubernatorial debate, said, “Until we put a value on carbon, we’re never going to be able to get serious about dealing with climate change.” He also touted the University of Utah’s status as a leading center of innovation on carbon capture programs and advocated moving toward a “greener economy.”

Now, however, Hunstman proudly embraces inaction:

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.

Brad Johnson notes that:

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. “

The conservative-led government of Britain thinks that in fact this is the time to act — see Britain pledges to cut carbon pollution in half by 2025 (from 1990 levels). Too bad the U.S. conservative movement has joined the scientific equivalent of the birthers.