By Laura Barron-Lopez - 06/30/14 09:27 AM EDT
Hank Paulson, who served as Treasury secretary under former President George W. Bush, says Republicans are prepared to have some tough talks on climate change.
"I think there are a lot of fellow Republicans, my fellow Republicans, business leaders and political leaders, that are ready for a serious discussion about the science and the risks that come out of the science," Paulson said in an interview on CNN's "Fareed Zarkaria GPS" on Sunday.
He warned that if the U.S. takes no action to mitigate severe storms, droughts and floods, the role of government will only grow.
"What I've said about a carbon tax is some people that oppose it are opposing it because they don't like the government playing a big role," Paulson said. "And, you know, the perverse aspect of that is, frankly, those that are resisting taking action now are guaranteeing that the government will be playing a bigger role, because we're seeing now and we're going to see an increasing number of natural disasters, Mother Nature acts."
Paulson has joined billionaire Tom Steyer and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in chairing the climate group Risky Business, which released a report last week on the financial risks of climate change.
Paulson also penned an op-ed piece in The New York Times comparing what he is calling a "climate crisis" to the credit bubble burst in 2008.
Multiple former administration officials have spoken out in the last month, pressing Republicans to engage on climate change.
Four former chiefs of the Environmental Protection Agency under Republican presidents testified before a Senate panel earlier this month, warning of the risks associated with inaction on climate change.
Republicans on the committee paid little heed to the testimony, instead directing questions to witnesses who were also skeptical of climate change science.
The issue of climate change has divided Congress more and more as President Obama acts unilaterally to implement regulations aimed at curbing the effects of greenhouse gas emissions, which are linked to climate change.
Obama's signature climate rule, unveiled June 2, mandates that states cut carbon emissions from existing power plants 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.
So far, the proposal has not been received well by Republicans in Congress, who paint it as part of the president's "war on coal."