WASHINGTON -- Representative Edward Markey, borrowing a line from Clint Eastwood’s script, likened Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday to an empty chair when it comes to global warming.
Romney used to talk about climate change as governor of Massachusetts, “and not make jokes about it,” Markey said in Charlotte, N.C., at an event sponsored by The Hill newspaper. “But talking to that Governor Romney today would be like talking to an empty chair. There is no conversation you can have with him.”
Markey, a Democrat from Malden and the ranking member on the House Natural Resources Committee, was poking fun at what he and others say is Romney’s evolving view on climate change. During the Republican National Convention, Eastwood delivered a rambling speech in which he had a conversation with an empty chair that was supposed to be a stand in for President Obama.
As governor, Romney supported limits on carbon emissions and considered participating with other Northeast states in a cap-and-trade program before backing out.
While Romney has previously acknowledged the human role in climate change, he says it’s just one among other factors in deciding policy.
“The issue of energy is going to be huge in the final eight weeks of the campaign and the president has a great case to make,” Markey said, according to The Hill.
At his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa last week, Romney tweaked the president for promising to “slow the rise of the oceans, and to heal the planet,” suggesting that his priority would be “to help you and your family.”
On Tuesday, Scientific American released responses from the Obama and Romney campaigns on key science issues, including climate change.
“I am not a scientist myself, but my best assessment of the data is that the world is getting warmer, that human activity contributes to that warming, and that policymakers should therefore consider the risk of negative consequences,” Romney replied. “However, there remains a lack of scientific consensus on the issue — on the extent of the warming, the extent of the human contribution, and the severity of the risk — and I believe we must support continued debate and investigation within the scientific community.
“Ultimately, the science is an input to the public policy decision; it does not dictate a particular policy response,” Romney said.
In his response, President Obama said he would continue working to reduce dependence on oil to cut down on carbon emissions.
“Climate change is the one of the biggest issues of this generation, and we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies that lead to greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and social benefits,” Obama said.