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Climate change: What did Romney believe and when did he believe it?

Dan Farber, professor of law | August 3, 2012

Two days ago (July 31, 2012), I posted documentation about Romney’s views about climate change.  Today, I want to discuss where he’s been consistent and when he has changed course.

What’s causing climate change? Romney has been consistent in saying that the climate is changing. In terms of the reasons, however, he’s been cautious, hedging to varying degrees since the time he entered public life.  But he’s usually said that human activities are probably contributing to climate change, and sometimes he’s dropped the “probably.”

The most striking exception to his usual stance came last October, when he was trying to fend off conservative challengers. That’s when he said, “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet.”  Now that he has the nomination in the bag, there’s some evidence that he’s jettisoning this climate skepticism again.

What should we do about climate change? In terms of remedies for climate change, it seems clear that he supported cap-and-trade vigorously until December, 2005, when he shifted position almost overnight after getting pushback from the business community.

At almost exactly the same time, he announced his presidential ambitions.  Maybe that’s just a coincidence.

Since 2005, he has argued that the U.S. should not regulate carbon until there’s a global agreement, but instead should support research into renewable energy.  That’s roughly the position of the Bush Administration by the end of his presidency, after flirting with climate skepticism earlier on.

Assuming he sticks with it, Romney’s post-2005 position is not going to satisfy those of us who believe the climate scientists about the urgency of addressing climate change. It’s also not going to make his conservative base very happy. But it may be his best political option in terms of looking reasonable to moderates while fending off any open revolt on the Right.

Cross-posted from the environmental law and policy blog Legal Planet.

Comments to “Climate change: What did Romney believe and when did he believe it?

  1. From what I understand his position on the environment got even worse after receiving a donation of 150K last Winter. As more storms happen, food supplies get even more threatened, utility companies get to the breaking point, storm clean up becomes even more exhorbitant, will Republicans finally wake up? How do we convince the American people that the economy is directly tied to climate change? This is the biggest issue on our plates. The viability of our planet is the viability of us and no tax cut can fix it.

  2. I share that view entirely: the U.S. Presidents in my lifetime who caused the greatest concern for their apparent ability to suspend morality were first Nixon, then ‘W’, and now the astonishing candidate Romney. All indications are he is the Corporate uber-puppet.

  3. For what it’s worth, I thought the most immoral and dishonorable president we had to suffer through after WWII was Nixon, but Bush was incredibly worse than Nixon. Then I thought no one could be worse than “W” but after listening to the republican debates against Romney I realized that there is actually someone much worse than “W” who is about the most immoral and dishonorable politician in America today, although there are a lot of GOP congressmen who are down there with him.

    There can be absolutely no doubt that Romney is a wholly owned and controlled puppet of the superPAC oligarchs, especially the fossil fuel interests, with his litany of Etch a Sketch flip-flops. How stupid does he, and his puppet-masters, think the American electorate really is?

    So it is guaranteed Romney will trash the environment to maximize profits for himself and his puppet-masters as his First Commandment, because he is also makes him the worst false profit since Judas.

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