Photo credit: ddp USA
By Oliver Milman
Florida’s leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, have both criticized federal action to combat climate change, with Rubio warning it would “destroy” the US economy and Bush predicting “someone in a garage somewhere” will solve the problem instead.
Responding to a rare question about climate change in Thursday’s Republican debate in Des Moines, Iowa, Rubio denied that he ever supported a “cap and trade” system to lower emissions, despite his having called it “inevitable” in 2008.
“I have never supported cap-and-trade and I never thought it was a good idea,” the Florida senator said. “And I do not believe it’s a good idea now. I do not believe that we have to destroy our economy in order to protect our environment.
“And especially what these programs are asking us to pass … will do nothing to help the environment, but will be devastating for our economy. When I am president of the United States of America, there will never be any ‘cap and trade’ in the United States.”
On the campaign trail in Iowa this week, Rubio said policies being implemented by Barack Obama will harm the economy and cost “hundreds of thousands of jobs”.
Obama’s initial cap and trade plan was blocked by Congress. Instead, the Environmental Protection Agency will impose greenhouse gas limits on power plants, allowing a form of emissions trading between the states.
Obama’s administration has pledged to cut US greenhouse emissions from all sectors by up to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Research released this week by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) and the University of Colorado Boulder found that the US could slash emissions much further, cutting them by up to 78% below 1990 levels within 15 years, while meeting increased demand.
These cuts, the Nature Climate Change study states, could be achieved “without an increase in the levelized cost of electricity”. It would be undertaken via a shift to a national energy system using existing renewable sources such as solar and wind and deploying the latest electricity storage technology.
Bush, once governor of Florida, has said he supports federal government support for “basic research” into low-carbon energy but, like Rubio, places his faith in the free market to deal with rising temperatures and the extreme weather events, drought and sea level rise they bring.
“What we shouldn’t try to do is pick winners and losers through the federal government,” he said at a gathering in New Hampshire on Saturday, in a newly emerged video.
“The market will work faster. There’s someone in a garage somewhere, parochially I hope it’s in Miami, that’s going to have a clue, to have an answer to this.
“There are people well-intended on climate change but they need to be careful to not paint the apocalypse. Because we are not there. But we should be adapting.”
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