UPDATE: Boyd Cohen has recanted this position. For other perspectives on the candidates, check out these posts:
- Five Problems with the Romney-Ryan Budget
- Romney Energy Plan a Massive Pipeline Dream
- On Taxes, More Than 47% Will Question Why Vote For Mitt Romney
- Why Vote for Mitt Romney? Not the Economy!
Boyd Cohen, Ph.D., CEO, CO2 IMPACT
I grew up in a conservative family. However most of my adult life I have leaned to the left, despite all my business training and capitalist tendencies. I now live in Canada (Vancouver), but I of course continue to pay attention to developments in my native homeland. And naturally with my interest in promoting climate capitalism, I have been particularly attuned to the lack of progress towards embracing a low-carbon economy in the U.S. I am watching the world pass us by (Canada is along for the ride since its stated policy is to follow whatever the U.S. does, which is currently next to nothing) in its adoption of renewables, promotion of energy efficiency, innovations in public transit and much more.
In the last Presidential election in the U.S., I predictably voted for Obama because I did want change in the U.S. on a range of issues, not the least of which is climate change. When Obama came into office, I believed he was sincere about wishing to bring the U.S. more in line with Europe and that he recognized the economic benefits for transitioning the U.S. to a low-carbon future. Honestly I think he still does believe all that but he has fallen WAY short on achieving U.S. commitment to a global treaty or binding targets on GHG emissions.
So I know this comes as a shock to some of my climate-capitalist leaning colleagues, but if an election was held today for the next President of the U.S., I would actually vote for Mitt Romney instead of Obama, assuming that Mitt actually wins the Republican nomination.
Why? Obama has become a polarizing figure in American politics and despite promises to the contrary has failed to eradicate the bi-partisan behavior in Congress. Climate change, health care, debt reduction, reform of financial markets, etc. have all been divisive issues and in almost 100% of the time, have led to votes completely down party lines.
What we need in the U.S. is to have a President who is capable of mending some fences and enabling more bi-partisan support for issues that matter. I feel that as long as President Obama is in office, we may never get movement on some of the issues that matter most to me, like climate change.
Mitt Romney on the other hand is a conservative who recently reaffirmed that he actually accepts that climate change is a reality and is something we must tackle. “I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that. It’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors.”
I know this statement and Romney’s track record on climate change is not going to blow away climate scientists and those concerned about one of the biggest challenges our world has faced since humans have lived on it. But a legitimate, credible, respectable CONSERVATIVE Republican presidential candidate who is not towing the party line of denial is beyond refreshing.
Republicans who were once outspoken supporters of action on climate change have gone silent, or worse become critics of climate legislation. The most shocking example was when Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) went from co-writing climate legislation to voting against his own legislation as he realized his stance was unpopular with the majority of his party.
There is still much to be seen on whether Romney will stay true to his word as the race for Republican nominee heats up because his stance on climate change is not popular in the Republican Party. And as Climate Progress points out, Romney has a history of flip-flopping on issues, most recently on health care.
But if Romney can stay firm on the issue throughout the runup, and win the nomination, I would be inclined to vote for him. I believe most of us concerned about climate change, at this point, would take any federal action on climate change as a baby step in the right direction. Putting a price on carbon, a carbon tax, cap and trade, binding GHG targets, or heck at this point a stated recognition that the climate science is valid would all be achievements compared to where we are now.
While I believe Obama is polarizing, I am hopeful that if Romney were President he could get some kind of agreement with the Democratic party and hopefully turn some Republicans who deep down are also smart enough to know that climate change is real and is already having impacts on their constituents (think the recent flooding in the Midwest and Southeast).
I hope Romney sticks to his guns on the topic of climate change and finds arguments, like climate capitalism (i.e. economic and job growth can be obtained by embracing the low-carbon economy), that will appeal to the right (and the left) in order to unite congress, and the American public, in becoming part of the solution rather than continuing to be a Fossil of the decade alongside its Canadian puppet.
Boyd Cohen is the CEO of CO2 IMPACT, a carbon origination company based in Vancouver, Canada and Bogota, Colombia. Boyd is also the co-author of Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change.
This series uses the hashtag #climatecapitalism