After taking heat from Democrats over remarks he made questioning the human impact on climate change, Sen. Marco Rubio attempted to clarify his stance Tuesday.
The Florida Republican said at a National Press Club luncheon that he’s never doubted the climate is changing, but expressed skepticism that any specific policy could fully address the issue.
“Headlines notwithstanding, of course the climate is changing, the climate is always changing," Rubio said. “The issue is not whether the climate is changing … the issue is whether there are legislative proposals before us that can do anything about it.”
In an interview that aired on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Rubio said that he does “not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it,” prompting Democrats to label him as a climate-science denier.
At the luncheon, Rubio restated his opposition to cap-and-trade proposals, but said that he generally supports efforts to develop cleaner and more efficient energy, as long as they do not come at too steep of a cost to the economy. Rubio also argued that the country could not solve the problem of climate change on its own, noting that China and developing countries are responsible for a significant portion of carbon emissions.
“The truth of the matter is the United States is a country, it is not a planet,” Rubio said.
While climate change is not shaping up to be a major issue in the 2016 election, it will still be a tricky one for Rubio and other potential GOP presidential candidates to navigate. Conservatives are less likely to buy into the science behind the causes of climate change or view it as a pressing concern, so Rubio isn’t at risk of losing support among his base with his positioning. But Democrats see any sort of skepticism from conservatives surrounding climate change as a prime opportunity to paint Republicans as out-of-touch with mainstream voters.