2015 was a banner year for climate action. The Clean Power Plan, the Paris Agreement, and a number of local and state actions throughout the country proved that leaders are finally getting serious about climate change. However, many elected officials throughout the US have stalled, and have sought to halt climate action at every step. That all may be changing
In a recent poll conducted by a major GOP donor, researchers were confronted with some suprising results. They found that a majority of republican respondents, and a majority of self identified conservatives, believe that climate change is real, and that action is needed. Furthermore, the respondents expressed support for a carbon tax under certain conditions, believe that utilities must transition to renewable energy generation, and are in favor of facilitating policies that make solar investments more obtainable for homeowners.
These shifts in political and policy preferences are inline with traditional conservative tenants that embrace the value of choice, independence and fiscal responsibility. Mayors and climate leaders from both sides of the aisle should embrace these changing opinions, and find ways to facilitate to dismantle the idea that climate action is a politically divisive issue. All Americans support healthier environments for their families, better paying and stable jobs for workers, more robust local economies, cheaper energy bills, and a thriving natural environment. It is up to bold, decisive leadership to now develop bipartisan climate action plans that reflect these shared goals. Find out how you can be part of the solution by visiting Path to Positive Communities.
If you’re an American environmentalist, it’s hard not to feel a little bit hopeless.
Just look at Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe sneaking a snowball to the Senate floor to taunt IPCC scientists, at presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s climate denial hearing (featuring Exxon-funded research, naturally) or at Donald Trump’s tweet that global warming is a ploy to weaken American manufacturing competitiveness relative to China’s.
The conservative conversation on climate seems to be moving backwards at full speed. With Republicans in control of 246 out of 435 seats in the House of Representatives– a number that’s unlikely to change significantly any time soon— passage of a meaningful climate law seems like an incredibly tall order. Even if Democrats do retake the House in the near future (something most pollsters consider nearly impossible), the math of legislative procedure — including a 60-vote threshold for most measures in the Senate —would make it extremely difficult to pass a serious climate bill with only Democratic support. Just look at the failure of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade billjust after Obama’s 2008 Democratic wave.