George Pataki Leads 2016 GOP Crowd…

…in believing in climate change action. At least, he used to.

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/17647428909/in/photolist-se5Aqx-sdURjw-t8yFi3-sTjiAu-taXoFn-sTs2H2-t8AsuJ-sTrkTH-sTrFMF-ezyQvX-hKyepQ-65qjud-rX5FKo-scmUcN-sev9Lf-sevhrL-rhDEXJ-rXcHnM-scmVbb-seB6HZ-sevofj-sevaB3-rXcQCZ-rhRhVx-sevnjG-seB3CR-rX4E1G-57y2Dm-seB8Jc-saY9Rz-4EXRBR-65qjoY-rSx6NF-rhodzT-rWJJja-se92xZ-rWAGGh-rWAxhL-se3kHQ-rhbLJh-4vLTn1-4H1xbp-6NX2EG-6NSRPB-6hkBBn-6hpMJo-6NX2wQ-6NX2qY-zpJpE-akoPMg">Gage Skidmore</a>/Flickr

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The good news: The GOP 2016 field has a contender who believes human-induced climate change is real and extensive action must be taken to reduce emissions. The bad news: It’s George Pataki.

The former New York governor announced his entry into the race on Thursday—and, predictably, the political earth did not move. Few members of the politerati view Pataki as a top-tier candidate. His name recognition is low. And after he left New York state’s top job in 2006, Pataki, who had unexpectedly defeated then-Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1994, has been largely absent from politics. But he did—of course—join a law firm. And he formed a consulting group to provide guidance to firms in the energy, infrastructure, clean-tech, and environmental fields. Clean tech? Yes, he was a fan of green-friendly enterprise. But—for a Republican contender—it’s even worse: Pataki became an advocate for climate change action.

In 2007, he was named co-chair of the Independent Task Force on Climate Change organized by the Council on Foreign Relations. The other co-chair was Tom Vilsack, the former Democratic governor of Iowa who is now President Barack Obama’s agriculture secretary. Other members of this very blue-ribbon commission included Lawrence Summers, Theodore Roosevelt IV, and Timothy Wirth. And after a year of study and deliberations, the panel put out a 142-page report that would horrify the Republican Party of today, for it noted that human-caused climate change posed a crisis and that comprehensive action was required immediately. It proposed a cap-and-trade system to dramatically reduce US emissions.

Here’s the first page:

In a chapter entitled “Leadership,” the report noted that redressing climate change would “demand much of U.S. leaders” and “require strong cooperation between the executive branch and Congress.” It called for bipartisan action. The report concluded, “Addressing climate change will be no easy task. But with careful and creative strategy, tempered by modesty in its knowledge of how to address to [sic] the challenge but driven by an equally clear recognition of its gravity, the United States can ultimately help lead the world to a safer place.”

That’s certainly not the Republican line these days. Earlier this year, the GOP-controlled Senate voted that climate change is not caused by human activity. And it’s become a GOP article of faith that climate change is a phony issue and cap-and-trade (or any other response) is a left-wing plot to impose more taxes on Americans for the sake of imposing more taxes on Americans.

So it will be interesting to see how Pataki handles—or dodges—this issue as he campaigns for Republican votes. Here’s one clue: His bio on his campaign website doesn’t mention his climate change work. And he neglected to mention climate change during his announcement speech. Perhaps he needs to re-read his own report.

 
 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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