A Republican calls for climate change action

At Governor Schwarzenneger's Global Climate Change Summit last month, at which I was a panelist, the keynote address was given by a Republican, George Schultz, who even in his eighties is still one of our nation's most distinguished policymakers.

Schultz is one Republican who has a lot to say on the subject of climate change.

Despite his conservative background, in government Schultz has consistently pioneered change for America and the world. As Secretary of Labor in the Nixon administration, he was the man who first compelled labor unions to accept black workers. A couple of years later, as Secretary of the Treasury, Schultz founded the G-7 Economic Council, and moved the world away from the gold standard. In the l980's, as Secretary of State, Schultz recognized the threat of the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, and helped negotiate the international treaty that led to the control of chlorofluorocarbon emissions that were eating away at this crucial protection not just for our country or species, but for the entire planet.

He sees climate change in the same terms.

In a recent editorial for the Sacramento Bee, written in September, 2010 in opposition to Proposition 23, he wrote:

I remember from my time as Secretary of State our success, led by President Ronald Reagan, in dealing with the potential adverse effects of depletion of stratospheric ozone. Yes, as now, there were arguments among scientists about the imminence of the threat. Those who were deeply worried turned out to be right. The necessary agreement, called the Montreal Protocol, came into effect in the nick of time. President Reagan supported our effort from the start to finish and acclaimed the result to be "a monumental achievement."


In his opening address to the conference, Schultz spoke eloquently about the reality of climate change, about the critical need to face up to this challenge, and he bashed his fellow Republicans for putting this country at risk by ignoring a very real threat to our way of life. 

For the sake of partisan advantage, Schultz said, Republicans are putting everyone in the country in danger.

Schultz then went on to praise the voters in California for rejecting the false premise of Proposition 23 -- that a clean-energy economy means less jobs, when it fact it's just the opposite -- and defeating it. And, he asked the next big question: How do we use this victory to transform the economy?

In a word, he was fantastic.