Henry Paulson was Secretary of the Treasury during the financial crisis. We made mistakes that led to the financial crisis and the government had to take drastic steps to save the financial system. He argues that we should not make the mistake of underestimated the threat of climate change and the huge cost of the damages that are bound to occur if we do not take action today. A conservative approach to the threats from climate change will lead to radical changes in our economy. Republicans who worry about increasing the role of government in order to reduce the threats from climate change are making a big mistake. If we do nothing to reduce carbon emissions, the role of government in the economy will increase enormously in order to repair the damages that are bound to occur. The same thing happened during the financial crisis. Government had to take drastic actions to fix the badly damaged financial system because we failed to heed the warnings that were visible.
Paulson proposes a tax on carbon that would make it more expensive to burn fossil fuels. That would enable us to end subsidies for green sources of energy. Carbon emitting sources of energy would become more expensive than green energy. We should also end subsidies to the fossil fuel industries.
Fighting climate change is a global problem but we should not let that stop us from taking actions in our own country. The US and China are the largest emitters of carbon and we should focus our attention on them. Paulson has funded an institute at the University of Chicago which has a mission to bring China and the US together to fight climate change.
Paulson's message to his fellow Republicans will hard for them to accept. They have been dependent upon on the energy industries for financial support and they have convinced their base that climate change is a liberal myth. His warning to Republicans, however, was well thought out. It would be consistent with conservative ideology to do what is necessary to reduce the threat from climate change. Radical steps are required in order to deal with a radical problem. His message will also resonate with many business leaders. Most of them understand the threat of climate change. Moreover, many of them will see this as a business opportunity.