WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA — As he struggles to win the primary in his own home state, Sen. Marco Rubio is rejecting pleas from his own fellow Florida Republicans to support measures to combat climate change. When challenged by debate moderators Thursday night about rising sea levels threatening Miami, Rubio stuck to his position that climate change is natural, and not spurred by carbon emissions.
When ThinkProgress asked Rubio at a Friday press conference which groups or experts he has consulted to come to this conclusion, he cited only unnamed “economists and scientists.”
“Every time someone comes to see me and asks me to support one of these [climate change mitigation] policies, I always ask them, ‘Can you tell me how many inches of sea rise it will prevent?’ They say it won’t, but it will set an example for the rest of the world,” Rubio said. “Then when you ask economists, it’s clear that the cost of these policies will fall on American businesses.”
Despite stating that human activity was not the primary cause of climate change, Rubio told ThinkProgress that he encourages “innovation” to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, but doesn’t want the government to mandate that reduction.
When ThinkProgress tried to press Rubio to name any individual expert or group who has given him information about climate change, he ignored the question.
Florida is one of the U.S. states most at risk from the rising sea levels and extreme weather events associated with climate change. Nearly two dozen mayors in the state, from both parties, have sent letters urging the presidential candidates to discuss their plans to deal with this crisis.
Yet while both Democratic candidates accept climate science and have policies to address climate change, no remaining GOP candidate can say the same. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has called climate change a religion, Donald Trump cites snowfall in winter as evidence it is not happening, and Sen. Rubio referred to the Paris climate accord as an “unfunny joke” while questioning mainstream climate science. Ohio Gov. John Kasich does acknowledge humans’ contribution to climate change, but does not support government action to curb carbon emissions.