“George Shultz was to American public service what Joe DiMaggio was to baseball — not only extraordinarily talented but also graceful, dignified and known for his fierce integrity. Republican presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to Ronald Reagan benefited from the precision of his thinking, which was always evidence-based and grounded in deep respect for the rule of law. As Reagan’s Secretary of State, he helped the president see the need for global action to repair serious damage to the earth’s ozone layer — action that was enshrined in the Montreal Protocol. Signed by Reagan in 1987 and ratified by a Democratic-controlled Congress in 1988, it remains one of the most important and successful global environmental achievements in history.
“Secretary Shultz’s bipartisan vision for public service did not end when he left Washington in 1989. As the Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution, he became an important voice of reason in the national debate over climate change. His observation of the rapid changes caused by global warming led him to challenge his party to act.
“ ‘It was a Republican president that created the EPA,’ he said. ‘It was a Republican president that did the Montreal Protocol. It was a Republican president that did the cap-and-trade system that dealt with acid rain, so we’re the party that has done something.’ He wrote about the need to eliminate methane pollution from oil-and-gas production before the power of this greenhouse gas was widely understood. And through his involvement at MIT and Stanford, he saw the rapid decline in clean energy costs, including the coming breakthroughs in battery technology, well before most others.
“It was his interest in market-based climate solutions that brought Secretary Shultz and me together, and like so many others I benefited from his sage advice and deep perspective. As we make rapid, urgent climate progress in the days and years to come, we would all do well to heed his example: follow the evidence and build broad, bipartisan consensus around solutions that can stand the test of time. At a time when bipartisan cooperation is scarce and sorely needed, I think of George Shultz the way Paul Simon thought of DiMaggio: ‘Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.’”
- Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund
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