Here’s a video of Mitt Romney’s Aug 19 talk at the Sutherland Institute in SLC (here’s two news stories about it) and here’s a transcript to the best of our abilities of the parts relevant to climate change:
Time stamp 19:45
I’m one of the few Republicans who, while I don’t subscribe to the Green New Deal—I think it’s just silliness—I do believe we’re experiencing global warming or climate change, and I believe that human activity is a significant contributor to that. But I’ll note this, which is that the United States represents somewhere between 12 and 13 percent of the CO2 emissions of the world. We’re not half the CO2 emissions of the world, we’re 11, 12 or 13 percent, something in that range. And so, you going out and buying a Prius may be well and good, but it’s not going to change global emissions. It might change emissions a little bit here in the US, but all of the growth in emissions comes not from us or other developed nations, it comes from China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, the developing countries, which understandably are getting more cars, and getting air conditioners, and washing machines, and things that we have. As they do so, their CO2 emissions go up and up and up. And so as you look over the future in the world CO2 emissions go up. And so what we are doing here is the proverbial drop in the bucket.
If we want to reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide, the only way we’re going to be able to do so is if we’re able to show to the people in India and Brazil and China a way for them to generate power and propel their economy with a technology that’s lower cost than the lowest cost alternative—and that might be coal or natural gas—but there’s got to be something less expensive. And for that to happen we’ve got to have some kind of innovation, we’ve got to have some breakthroughs to occur. So the answer in my opinion to not just at a marginal level affect the reduction in CO2 but to actually get things to turn around and take us on a different track is to innovate and find new ways to provide power and power our economy that we don’t know today. And they may be based on current technologies or new breakthrough technologies. And so for me the question is, to deal with this issue, we’re going to have to create incentives for entrepreneurs and enterprises around the world to look for ways to provide energy in new ways.
Now, there’s a reality that if there are new sources of energy, or lower emitting sources of energy than we are used to today, that there are going to be some winners who are part of that and there are going to be some losers who are part of the technologies that become less effective. And I’m not wiling to sit by if there are major sectors that are losers and watch people or communities suffer because of that change. That’s what happened, by the way, in the auto industry and the steel industry, when automation hit it in such a big way, when NAFTA hit it, when international trade hit it, we stood back and said “Well, overall we’ll be better off.” And overall our country’s pretty well off because of international trade. But some pockets got very disproportionately impacted. And we said, “Well, the market’s going to care for that.” Well, the market may care for it, but how about the families in those areas that were hit so hard? They’re not taken care of. And so we may have communities in our state that are disproportionately affected by the changes of technology related to energy. And that’s particularly true in coal country: in Carbon County, in Price Utah, other places. They’re looking at, well, the next 10 years may be fine, but 10, 20, 30 years down the road, what happens? We’ve got to find a way to make sure that we don’t do in those communities what was done in the communities of the so-called Rust Belt that were so badly affected.
One of the ideas that may have some merit, to consider at least, is one that I’m looking at, because there’s a lot of talk about it, and that’s this carbon dividend, carbon tax, carbon dividend. I don’t know if you’ve heard about that, you probably have, but some of the oil companies have signed on to it, and a bunch of other companies. And the idea is this: Charge the oil companies, and the power companies, and anybody who emits a lot of carbon, charge them a tax of roughly $50 a ton for the carbon they’re emitting. And then take 90% of the proceeds and give it back to the consumers because consumer prices would be affected by the fact that they’re paying more in tax themselves. So give it back to the consumers, and almost all consumers would be better off, by the way, have a little extra money by virtue of doing that. And you ask me, what do you do with the 10%? Well, the 10% I would use to help the communities that are affected by the change in technology: the rural areas, the coal country, that’s going to be so significantly affected over the coming couple of decades. Help those communities and those people get back on their feet. The interest that I have in that is not so much how much reduction it would be in CO2 in the U.S., because as I’ve indicated I’m more concerned about what we’re seeing around the world. The interest that might be associated with this kind of policy would be the incentive it would create for carbon reduction innovation and the breakthroughs that might come as a result of that, and also the fact that we can help some of the communities that are struggling.
Time stamp 37:00
I’d like young people to realize that there are different streams of thought in the conservative world, and they may not agree with one stream, but they might agree with another stream. For instance, when I speak with young people, they’re inclined to agree with my views that global warming is happening. When I speak with older audiences, they’re not inclined to agree with that. Okay, let’s express those views and in some respects I’ll be able to make inroads with some of the younger people coming along.