Republicans largely silent on 'code red' climate change report

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The release on Monday of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s grim assessment of the trajectory of global warming has been met by a deafening silence by Republicans in Washington.

Unlike President Biden and numerous Democratic lawmakers, who shared on social media the conclusion of U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres that the report is “a code red for humanity,” prominent Republicans avoided posting their thoughts on the matter.

In a Tuesday interview with National Public Radio, however, Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., was asked directly about the release of the IPCC report and why he wasn’t pushing for greater climate change measures in the newly passed infrastructure bill that would help ensure the safety of Florida residents.

“I think we clearly want to, and need to, address the impacts of climate change, and we’ve got to protect our environment, but we’ve got to do it in a fiscally responsible manner,” Scott responded. “We can’t put jobs at risk.”

Pressed by host Ari Shapiro about the IPCC’s conclusion that dramatic changes need to be made now to curb greenhouse gas emissions or no one will be safe, Scott stuck by the rationale that has been emerging on climate change among members of his party.

“I think we can focus on the impacts of climate change and not put our jobs at risk and kill our economy,” Scott said.

Rick Scott
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images)

While the infrastructure bill that passed the Senate on Tuesday did contain provisions to help address climate change, environmental activists wanted it to go much further. But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, during debate on the budget reconciliation negotiations, that climate change would once again be a central focus.

“The future of our planet looks bleak until we do something, right now. And the budget reconciliation bill will do more to combat climate change than any legislation — ever — in the history of the Senate. That is a promise,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Monday.

But many Republicans are not on board with that plan. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., introduced an amendment that would prohibit “legislation or regulations to implement the Green New Deal.”

“I am offering this amendment to spare the country from the so-called Green New Deal,” Barrasso said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “The Green New Deal is not about protecting the environment. It’s about making big government even bigger. This socialist scheme would destroy jobs, it will reduce the quality of life for the American people. Millions and millions of Americans will suffer.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., then took to the floor and lashed out at Barrasso.

“In case the senator from Wyoming has missed it, Oregon is burning, California is burning, Greece is burning. There is a drought hitting virtually every country on Earth,” Sanders said. “News flash: Climate change is real, and the United States and other countries have got to address it.”

As Guterres noted Monday, the window of opportunity to avert the worst consequences of climate change is quickly closing.

“If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe. But as today’s report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses,” Guterres said.

Cover photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images


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