Among the many battles Sen. John McCain waged in his storied career, it is easy to overlook his fight for U.S. action on climate change. He wrote legislation that failed. He built a bipartisan coalition that crumbled. And when Congress came closest to passing a bill that embraced his central idea—a market-based cap-and-trade system—McCain turned his back. And yet, McCain’s nearly decade-long drive on global warming had an impact that reverberates in today’s efforts to revive the U.S. role in the climate fight. In the Senate chamber and on the campaign trail, the Arizona Republican did more than any other U.S. politician has done before or since to advance the conservative argument for climate action. Today’s efforts to recruit GOP members into the climate movement—appeals to conservative and religious values, the framing of climate change as a national security threat, efforts to stress market-based solutions and the role business leaders can play—all owe a debt to McCain. At the same time, McCain’s climate journey and its abrupt end serve as a cautionary tale of how far the Republican party has moved from a mainstream conservatism that is receptive to such appeals. "What McCain did on climate is a really […]

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