Taplin Environmental Lecture by The Honorable James A. Baker, III, 61st U.S. Secretary of State
For decades, former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III has been at the forefront of the most pressing issues of the day. In addition to being the only person to lead five presidential campaigns, Secretary Baker oversaw the only comprehensive income tax reform in US history, helped reform Social Security, and managed the soft landing of the Cold War.
Today, at age 87, Secretary Baker is working to find a solution to one of the most pressing challenges of our time -- global climate change. While the extent to which climate change is due to man-made causes is still a topic of political debate, Secretary Baker believes that the risks associated with future warming are too big and should be hedged.
Secretary Baker has joined with former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson and other Republicans to help develop a climate plan that harnesses enduring conservative convictions. Their climate solution is based on economic analysis and embodies the principles of free markets and limited government. If successful, such a plan could strengthen the United States economy, benefit working-class Americans, reduce regulations, and protect our natural heritage, as well as consolidate a new era of Republican leadership.
James A. Baker, III has held senior government positions under three U.S. presidents. He served President George Bush as the nation's 61st Secretary of State from January 1989 through August 1992, a period when the United States confronted the unprecedented challenges and opportunities of the post–Cold War era. Mr. Baker served as the 67th Secretary of the Treasury from 1985 to 1988 under President Ronald Reagan. He served twice as White House Chief of Staff -- from 1981 to 1985 under President Reagan and from 1992-1993 under President Bush. His record of public service began in 1975 as Under Secretary of Commerce to President Gerald Ford. Long active in American presidential politics, Mr. Baker led presidential campaigns for Presidents Ford, Reagan, and Bush over the course of five consecutive presidential elections from 1976 to 1992.
A native Houstonian, Mr. Baker graduated from Princeton University in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in History. After two years of active duty as a lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, he entered The University of Texas School of Law at Austin and graduated with honors in 1957. Mr. Baker is a senior partner in the law firm of Baker Botts L.L.P. He is Honorary Chairman of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and serves on the board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In recent years, he has served with former Congressman Lee Hamilton as co-chairmen of the Iraq Study Group, with President Jimmy Carter as co-chairmen of the Commission on Federal Election Reform and with the late Secretary of State Warren Christopher as co-chairmen of the National War Powers Commission. He and his wife, the former Susan Garrett, reside in Houston, and have eight children and 18 grandchildren.