Climate change science might just have become the new third rail in American politics.
One day after President Barack Obama unveiled a broad blueprint for reining in heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions and adapting U.S. infrastructure for more droughts and floods, Republicans are taking aim at the plan’s economic costs — not the science underpinning it.
It’s a remarkable change for a political party with high-profile leaders who have declared climate change a hoax and held congressional hearings designed to amplify doubts about whether human behavior contributes to the phenomenon.
It also may be a pragmatic one. As attitudes and beliefs about climate change have shifted — and the nation’s economic woes have come to the forefront — casting Obama’s plan as a job killer and “backdoor energy tax” may be a better strategy. Those were the overwhelming messages from Republican lawmakers criticizing Obama’s climate change plan on Tuesday and Wednesday.
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“Our argument with the president right now is that he’s picking energy winners and losers, he’s harming innovation and there’s going to be a direct assault on jobs,” House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters Wednesday. “There are direct economic and policy challenges to what the president decides net. There will be ramifications that will be lifelong.”
Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said Obama’s approach amounted to unilaterally imposing a “national energy tax” and a “war on jobs, our economy, affordable energy, American families and small businesses.”
Asked repeatedly Wednesday to address the science of the issue, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., told reporters that while “we all want to make energy as clean as we can, as fast as we can,” Obama’s plan is nothing more than “a national energy tax.”
Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said Thursday that climate change will drive job creation.
“Climate change will create jobs. It will create disasters before it creates jobs, but it will create jobs,” Lagarde said on the MSNBC program “Morning Joe.”
Her remark came in a wide-ranging interview about the global economy.
She cited climate change in response to a question about where job growth can occur at a time when workers are getting displaced by automation.
“It is a major issue, particularly at a time when robot-ization is developing in many of these advanced economies,” she said.
“But you know there will be areas of growth. You talk about green growth — that will be associated with particular jobs for which the training has not yet been invented and needs to be aggregated and put together,” Lagarde said Thursday.
She also noted jobs associated with caring for aging populations.
Her comments arrive as Republicans are attacking President Obama’s second-term climate agenda unveiled earlier this week, arguing that new power plant emissions rules in particular will cost jobs and raise energy costs.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor Tuesday that Obama’s plans will hurt the coal sector, which is “tantamount to kicking the ladder out from beneath the feet of many Americans struggling in today’s economy.”
The White House is pushing back against the charge that new steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions will hurt the economy, noting that earlier Clean Air Act rules for other pollutants didn’t have that effect.
“[T]he numbers speak for themselves: between 1970 and 2011, aggregate emissions of common air pollutants dropped 68 percent, while the U.S. gross domestic product grew 212 percent. Private sector jobs increased by 88 percent during the same period,” White House climate aide Heather Zichal said in
As ships get bigger, the pollution is getting worse. The most staggering statistic of all is that just 16 of the world’s largest ships can produce as much lung-clogging sulphur pollution as all the world’s cars.
Because of their colossal engines, each as heavy as a small ship, these super-vessels use as much fuel as small power stations.
But, unlike power stations or cars, they can burn the cheapest, filthiest, high-sulphur fuel: the thick residues left behind in refineries after the lighter liquids have been taken. The stuff nobody on land is allowed to use.
Thanks to decisions taken in London by the body that polices world shipping, this pollution could kill as many as a million more people in the coming decade – even though a simple change in the rules could stop it.
There are now an estimated 100,000 ships on the seas, and the fleet is growing fast as goods are ferried in vast quantities from Asian industrial powerhouses to consumers in Europe and North America.
It is foolish to try to put coal out of business when this is going on.