It is well documented that Mitt Romney has flip-flopped on global warming, going from a believer to a denier. A recently discovered letter written by Romney, then governor of Massachusetts, to fellow Republican George Pataki, then governor of New York, with regard to setting up a regional system to regulate greenhouse gases which eventually became the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), stated that Romney agreed with Pataki regarding the need to “reduce the power plant pollution that is harming our climate” and that cap-and-trade was “an effective approach” for dealing with climate change. Fastforward about 8 years and Romney now running for the Republican nomination for president said “We don't know what's causing climate change, and the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try and reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.” Of course, there is wide agreement among climate scientists that we do know with near certainty what is causing climate change, and it is mainly greenhouse gas emissions from human sources.
It seems safe to assume that if Romney defeats Obama that he will maintain his nonsensical position that we don’t the know cause of climate change until he is sworn in next January. Many conservatives of course fear that Romney would after some time revert back to attributing climate change to humans and their fears are probably well justified. There will be tremendous pressure on Romney to recognize humans as the main cause of climate change from leaders all over the world, and particularly leaders in Europe. The tension caused by Romney’s present view will prove too troublesome in international relations. Even George W. Bush, a staunch climate change denier, eventually conceded and acknowledged that global warming is real and is attributable to humans. To satisfy his conservative base, Bush set up an alternative world forum on climate change that focused on voluntary commitments, in effect, undermining the UN process of trying to obtain legally binding commitments to reduce emissions. It seems likely that Romney would follow this same course and focus on voluntary commitments, again undermining attempts to obtain legally binding commitments among nations. As long as the Republican base continues to deny reality and favors irrationalism over reason it is difficult to see how any Republican president can do much more and still remain politically viable.