Huntsman shifts stance on climate change

GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman shifted his position on global warming Tuesday, telling a conservative audience that there is "not enough information right now" on the issue to formulate policies.

In August, Huntsman drew attention and criticism from the right for tweeting that he believed scientists' claims on global warming.

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"To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy," Huntsman wrote at the time.

But speaking at the Heritage Foundation, Huntsman veered to the right of his former position.

"There's not enough information right now to formulate policies in terms of addressing it overall, primarily because it's a global issue," Huntsman said. "We can enact policies here, but I wouldn't want to unilaterally disarm as a country. I wouldn't want to hinder job creators at a time when our economy is flat."

Huntsman said he would not support policies that could be put in place to fight climate change if those policies harmed job creation.

"As for me, I'm not one who's going to unilaterally disarm our economy or our job creators in this country," he said.

Many conservatives do not believe in global-warming science, especially the aspect that human activity is the primary cause of climate change.

The dominant view among scientists, however, is that the planet is warming and human activities — notably the burning of coal and oil — are a major reason why.

The National Research Council in a report this year noted that climate change is “very likely caused primarily” by human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.

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In 2009, 18 scientific groups — including the American Meteorological Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science — issued a joint statement on the matter. They said that greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the “primary driver” of climate change.

Huntsman attempted to walk back his change of position, stressing that nothing he said meant he was denying scientific evidence.

"I'm not changing that at all, I still say that," Huntsman said when asked on Tuesday if his statement conflicted with his famous tweet. "I tend to defer to those who do that for a living and I say I'd be prepared to take it out of the political milieu and put it into the scientific milieu. But because there are questions about the validity of the science evidenced by one university in Scotland recently, I think the onus is on the scientific community to help clarify the situation.

"That's all. But do I defer to science and those who happen to do this for a living? Yeah I do, as I do on issues like cancer, for example," Huntsman added.

The Huntsman campaign said that he has always stressed the importance of a consensus with other leading nations, like India and China, on climate change.

"What I would like to do is make sure that the developed countries like China and India are basically reading the same science," Huntsman said in October.

"Governor Huntsman's comments today are consistent with his view that he trusts the body of science on global warming, but there's not global consensus and we can't disarm or hurt our job creators since this is a global problem," Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller said in a statement.

—Ben Geman contributed. 

This story was updated at 3:30 p.m.

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