For the umpteenth time, conservatives are taking another shot at pretending to care about climate change. The latest is from a group run by Gabriel Noronha, a former Trump political appointee who was fired from his position at the Department of State when he tweeted “President Trump fomented an insurrectionist mob that attacked the Capitol today. He continues to take every opportunity to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power. These actions threaten our democracy and our Republic. Trump is entirely unfit to remain in office, and needs to go.”
Considering Noronha told the truth about the events of January 6, one would hopethe Forum for American Leadership (FAL), the rightwing national security group Noronha directs, might tell some modicum of the truth when it comes to climate change. Alas, they pay lip service to the reality that fossil fuels cause climate change, so we were eager to see what a “Serious and Sound Climate Policy” from conservatives could mean, given the deeply unserious and unsound policies currently circulating in the name of climate action.
And it turns out that the FAL’s policy blueprint IS different from Trump’s!
Because while deniers tried but failed to get Trump to stand up a red team attack on climate science, that’s exactly what Noronha’s group proposes.
The blueprint has three main points of “serious and sound” conservative climate policy, and if “sound” sounds fishy, it should. None of them are actual policies intending to in any way reduce emissions. Two of them are attacks on science, pretending Steve “Debunked-a-Bunch” Koonin’s too-stupid-for-Trump red team proposal is something that hasn’t already been done. (Providing the latest example of how the industrial disinformation playbook uses never-ending calls for re-examining the science as a way to prevent policy from ever moving forward.)
FAL calls for Congress to “require settlement of differences arising in the peer-review of assessment reports by an independent referee, as is the case for research papers, instead of allowing the assessment report’s authors to discard criticism without explanation, as is the case now,” except it’s not the case now and if Congress did decide to set up a science referee to decide what criticism was worth listening to! If past is prologue, we know the right would, of course, throw its back out yelling about how Orwellian and anti-free speech it is to do such a thing. (Just see their response to the Biden administration thinking about doing something about Russian, and other, hostile foreign state disinformation!)
Then they think UN and US reports should “undergo a formal review by a group of independent climate experts” which is a bad faith, poorly-concealed call for a red team propaganda effort because these reports already go through exactly the sort of review by independent experts they’re calling for!
The next “big idea” is to “apply sound principles and leverage all strategies and fuels,” where they call for cost/benefit analyses of climate policies, which already happens, and every single solitary time they find that climate policies save countless human lives and bring net benefits. (Quick history lesson for FAL: conservatives pushed the cost benefit analysis thing back in the ‘80s, successfully! Congrats, your suggestion is a good one! Just that it’s like four decades too late, and every climate policy ever has provided far more benefits than costs.)
The final, and our favorite, of the big three buckets is, “Legislate on climate at home and lead abroad.” Yes, their big advice is that Congress should just pass some policy, and finally misrepresent the Paris agreement by saying it needs to be better by doing what it already does.
Apparently a sound and serious climate policy is one that is forever mired in explaining the science (and uncertainties) to the public, doing and re-doing cost-benefit analyses until fossil fuels look good somehow, and then just passing legislation in Congress and leading internationally. How would we do that? How do they suggest getting support of fossil-fuel funded politicians for policies that would reduce the use of fossil fuels?
They don’t. Instead they just say “Congress should lead the debate and enact domestic and international climate policy.” Oh! How?
“Congress should enact legislation establishing a nonpartisan, expert national commission that integrates technology development, economics, and the strategies, principles, and policy options noted above to develop coherent options for Congress to debate and enact.” Who knew it was just that simple?
Congress should just make a commission that would develop options for policies that Congress could debate and enact. Of course! Why hadn’t anyone thought of that! (Another history lesson for FAL: the National Climate Assessment FAL undermines was commissioned by Congress to provide expert advice on climate science and economics and already provides basically everything FAL asks.)
Oh but before any of that cost benefit stuff has been done, FAL already has its policies in mind- “should fuel switching policies be required, all energy sources should be on the table including nuclear, natural gas, fusion, hydrogen, and advanced biofuels.”
Hmm, okay, so do a big cost benefit analysis (that already happens and says wind+solar+storage wins) but make sure the end result is that we spend money on more fossil fuels, waste it on forever failing to build new nuclear and forever-20-years-away fusion, make sure the fossil fuel industry can keep polluting with hydrogen, and toss a bone to the Big Ag lobby for biofuels that are climate-counter-productive. Whatever you do, don’t help renewables though!
Apparently that’s what even non-Trump conservatives consider “serious and sound climate policy.”
But does it sound serious to you?