Romney Shifts on Climate Change Again

The former Massachusetts governor said climate change is caused by human activity, marking another shift in his public opinion on the issue.
The former Massachusetts governor said climate change is caused by human activity, marking another shift in his public opinion on the issue. –Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Climate change is a real and major problem, said Mitt Romney in a speech reported by the AP on Thursday, marking yet another shift in his public opinion on the issue.

The former Massachusetts governor, who is considering a third presidential run, told supporters in California he believes global climate change is human-caused and that federal leaders have failed to address the issue on a global scale.

“I’m one of those Republicans who thinks we are getting warmer and that we contribute to that,’’ said Romney, adding that Washington has done “almost nothing’’ to address it.

This may come as a surprise to those who followed the 2012 presidential election, when Romney was not one of “those Republicans.’’

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In October 2011, a few months before the 2012 Republican primaries, Romney told donors in Pennsylvania: “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.’’

In the same speech, Romney also emphasized increased drilling of fossil fuels.

“Let’s aggressively develop our oil, our gas, our coal, our nuclear power,’’ he said at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. “Look, Marcellus Shale is a huge godsend for the nation. Let’s develop it, aggressively.’’

That speech, in turn, was a change from his comments a few months earlier, when Romney told voters at a June 2011 New Hampshire event that he believed in anthropogenic climate change.

“I believe the world’s getting warmer. I can’t prove that, but I believe on what I read that the world is getting warmer,’’ said Romney. “And number two, I believe that humans contribute to that.’’

Those statements echoed Romney’s statements as when he was governor in 2003, when he said: “I think the global warming debate is now pretty much over and people recognize the need associated with providing sources which do not generate the heat that is currently provided by fossil fuels.’’

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During the 2012 election, Romney took criticism from both conservatives and liberals for his perceived flip-flopping on whether human were contributing to climate change. The fact-checking website Politifact rated Romney’s October 2011 climate skeptic comments as a “Half Flip.’’

So we could describe his most recent remarks affirming human-caused climate change as a reverse half-flip. Pretty nimble for a grandfather of 22.

For what it’s worth, scientists claimed last Friday that 2014 was the hottest year in recorded history, and the overwhelming consensus among climate scientists is that human activity is to blame.

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