the national interest

The Republican Climate Platform Keeps Getting Crazier Every Election

Photo: Getty Images

Eight years ago, the Republican Party’s platform had a fairly sane position on climate change. It acknowledged “human activity” had “increased the amount of carbon in the atmosphere,” and pledged “technology-driven, market-based solutions that will decrease emissions, reduce excess greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, increase energy efficiency, mitigate the impact of climate change where it occurs.” Then, four years ago, it started to get crazy. All of the acknowledgements of climate change and greenhouse-gas emissions were gone from the 2012 platform, replaced with the vague statement, “The causes and long-range effects of a phenomenon are uncertain.” The platform also opposed cap-and-trade or regulation of greenhouse-gas emissions.

This year’s draft platform has a stance on climate change that is even crazier than the last one. The new platform expresses even more skepticism about the theory of anthropogenic global warming, which Republicans now officially declare to be cooked up by U.N. bureaucrats:

Information concerning a changing climate, especially projections into the long-range future, must be based on dispassionate analysis of hard data. We will enforce that standard throughout the executive branch, among civil servants and presidential appointees alike. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a political mechanism, not an unbiased scientific institution. Its unreliability is reflected in its intolerance toward scientists and others who dissent from its orthodoxy. We will evaluate its recommendations accordingly.

Notably, after calling for “hard data” and then dismissing the IPCC — the body accepted by climate scientists as the leading authority — as hopelessly biased, the Republican platform does not specify which scientific authority it would accept.

The 2012 platform called for reining in the Environmental Protection Agency across a range of fronts. The 2016 platform wants to get rid of the agency altogether: “We propose to shift responsibility for environmental regulation from the federal bureaucracy to the states and to transform the EPA into an independent bipartisan commission.” The new platform also declares coal, which is far more carbon-intensive than any other source of electric power and also packed with other air pollutants, to be “clean”:

The Democratic Party does not understand that coal is an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource. Those who mine it and their families should be protected from the Democratic Party’s radical anticoal agenda.

Of course, since Republicans officially refuse to recognize scientific findings relating carbon emissions to climate change, it’s not clear what “clean” energy even means to them. If coal is clean, isn’t all energy clean?

It’s important to keep in mind that, aside from a handful of areas of special Trumpian interest, like making nice with Vladimir Putin, the Republican platform represents the consensus view of the party apparatus rather than the nominee. It’s concerning that the Republican Party has been overtaken by a dangerous maniac. But climate science is one of the issues where dangerous maniacs have been in control before Trump even came along.

GOP Climate Platform Gets Crazier Every Election