Two Conservative Leaders Addressing Climate Change

The War on Global Warming has been, almost exclusively, a Liberal battle of humans over a combination of natural forces (established science accepts the fact that climate change has always been around and will, presumably, never go away) and human greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution.

For the most part, any media attention bestowed on conservative climate change ideas is dismissive and very negative. But cleaning up the environment is a sound and bipartisan idea whether you link it to global warming or not.

More and more conservatives are embracing this view, formulating ideas for cutting emissions, pricing carbon, and promoting clean energy.

Among them are former New York Governor and 2016 Republican presidential candidate George Pataki, Senior Counsel of Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP. Pataki’s practice focuses on energy, environmental, and corporate affairs. Before joining that firm, he served three terms as the 53rd governor of New York state from 1995-2006. First elected in 1994, he won re-election in 1998 and 2002.

Gov. Pataki began his legal and public service as a partner in the New York law firm of Plunkett & Jaffe until 1987. He was elected mayor of Peekskill, New York in 1981, and served in the New York State Legislature as an assemblyman and then a senator from 1985-1994 before becoming governor.

While acting as New York’s top executive, Governor Pataki advanced award-winning, innovative policies in the fields of renewable energy and environmentalism. His initiatives included protecting over one million acres of open space, the adoption of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the implementation of the nation’s first green building tax credit, landmark brownfield legislation, and programs to enhance the production and use of alternative energy such as biodiesel, ethanol, fuel cells, and clean coal.

Pataki has publicly supported national reductions in greenhouse gases since 1998. As governor of New York, he enacted a renewable energy standard that required state utilities to get 25 percent of their electricity from clean sources.

Upon leaving office in 2006, the Council on Foreign Relations named Pataki co-chair of a climate change task force that issued a report calling for the bold measures of a cap-and-trade program.

In 2007, Pataki founded the Pataki-Cahill Group, a consulting firm for companies building energy and environmental projects. One such venture is a nontoxic, low-energy wastewater treatment for reuse. Another is an underwater and underground direct power line to deliver hydroelectric and wind energy from Quebec to New York City.

Here is Pataki’s position on climate change:

“Now, I know among conservatives it’s controversial, and I can understand that, because it’s become a religion on the left. Whenever something becomes a religion in the name of science, people become skeptical. But two things are non-questionable: One is that human activity is emitting CO2 into the atmosphere, and the second is that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that warms the Earth. So yes, I think that global warming is real.”

Another conservative taking action over climate change is Andrew “Andy” Sabin, a Republican businessman who started the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at New York’s Columbia Law School with $5 million of his own money. The group provide financial support to hundreds of organizations is actively involved with community and environmental programs around the world.

The Sabin Center for Climate Change seeks to develop legal techniques to fight climate change. Sabin cautions against overregulation on climate issues and opposes punitive measures such as a carbon tax. But Sabin Center team members are independent thinkers who span the political spectrum. The lead environmental lawyer, Michael Gerrard, for example, has liberal leanings.

Sabin founded the South Fork Natural History Museum in Bridgehampton, NY, and continues to lead nature walks for the institution. On an expedition to Papua, New Guinea, the environmentalist helped discover a new species of frog that is named for him: Aphantophryne sabini.

In 2007, to provide more professional support for his philanthropy and involve his family in charitable giving, he established the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation.

Chairman of scrap metal recycler Sabin Metal Corporation and founder of Sabin Commodities, Sabin is a lifelong philanthropical conservationist who has funded ecosystem protection efforts with a total of four species named after him.

Sabin likes nuclear energy and says natural gas cuts pollution by 50 percent more than oil. He advocates research and development into new kinds of engines that generate the same horsepower but cut carbon by 50 percent.

According to Sabin, convincing other Republicans to prioritize climate change is difficult because conservatives equate the message of reducing carbon with total job loss. He is working to change that perception.

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