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Jeff Johnson's climate policy: do nothing

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Jeff Johnson
Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson, center, is greeted by his supporters on primary night.
Alex Kormann | Star Tribune via AP file

Republican candidate for governor Jeff Johnson believes climate change is happening, but he doesn't want to do anything about it.  

Johnson's position on climate change came up during last Friday's gubernatorial debate aired on Twin Cities Public Television where he suggested that plans to combat global warming wouldn't do any good.

  "There is a consensus that the plans are out there to deal with climate change somehow aren't going to change anything in the long run. They just won't make a difference. Even if we do it on a nationwide scale, but if we do it on a statewide scale, even less so," he said in the debate with DFL candidate Tim Walz.

  Johnson went on to say climate change legislation is costly to people and politicians who promote such laws do so because they believe it's "the right thing to do," despite it being ineffective. He did not specify the legislation to which he was referring.  

"We have to end that era of making decisions that hurt people because it makes politicians look good or feel good," Johnson said.

Among the science community, there is "absolutely not" consensus that climate change mitigation efforts wouldn't be effective, said ecologist Jessica Hellmann, director of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment.

Rather, she said the scientific consensus is that people can take tangible steps to mitigate climate change.   

Climate change is a global problem that can be mitigated through massive collective action, such as emission-reduction agreements like the Paris climate accord or the Kyoto Protocol.  

Even if climate targets aren't hit, less greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is better for the climate, Hellmann said.   

After the debate, Johnson noted a top climate group's analysis saying that a single country's efforts to mitigate climate change would have only a "small effect."  

"Obviously, one state would have much less than that," he said in a statement to MPR News.  

Johnson did not elaborate on what climate policies he'd push for as governor. Climate hasn't emerged as a key issue in the governor's race and Johnson hasn't yet spoken at length about it publicly.  

Walz, his Democratic challenger, supports policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.