Republicans Join Call for Action on Climate Change

Posted September 1, 2008 at 6:44pm

A bipartisan group of energy policy experts today agreed on the need for a strong national policy to tackle climate change.

Panelists invited by the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota applauded the success of existing clean-energy technologies, but they urged a comprehensive energy policy to move the nation forward.

Former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) said that individual states have been taking action but that what they are doing is not enough to combat the fundamental challenges surrounding America’s energy needs.

Mike Davis, a former assistant secretary of Energy under President George H.W. Bush, said that the core problem is how Americans frame the issue. The focus, he said, needs to shift from piecemeal approaches to policies based on real outcomes.

Panelists Robert McFarlane, former national security adviser to President Reagan, and James Woolsey, former director of central intelligence under President Clinton, concurred and also discussed how the country has been dependent upon the oil markets for years, and how that has to be meshed with government action. “We have to shape markets,” Woolsey said.

However Pataki, a self-identified “green Republican,” noted that market-based initiatives are a key draw for many Republicans who are skeptical of the notion of climate change and the need for action. “Skeptics come from an underlying distrust of the federal government taking charge of this issue in terms of legislation,” Pataki said.

Woolsey echoed Pataki, suggesting that more Republicans can be motivated to action through political coalition building.