4 Signs That Conservatives Are Embracing Climate Action

George PatakiCalls for climate action aren’t just coming from liberal politicians and environmentalists – more and more often, they are coming from places dominated by conservatives, and the messages are getting increasingly difficult for hard-line GOP politicians to ignore. In an article for The Conversation, Andrew J. Hoffman, Holcim (US) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan and a member of our Research Council, describes this new conservative social movement. Here are four signs that the tide is turning:
 
1. Business leaders are speaking out.
Major companies like Johnson & Johnson, General Mills, and Nike are realizing that climate change impacts their business and economic stability overall. That’s why 81 companies have signed the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, voicing support for a strong climate agreement in Paris. As Hoffman says, “These messages are not coming from the Environmental Protection Agency… Al Gore, or an environmental nongovernmental organization, and they carry a weight with the voters that cannot easily be dismissed.”
 
2. Faith leaders are speaking out.
From his landmark encyclical to his speeches before Congress and the UN, Pope Francis has been making a strong moral case for fighting climate change in order to protect the most vulnerable among us. Following his example, bishops from around the world met in Rome last week to raise a collective call for a successful agreement in Paris. Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist leaders have also made public statements urging the world to take action.
 
3. Republican leaders are speaking out.
While many GOP politicians continue to deny the need for climate action, some have boldly bucked the trend. At last week’s Republican debate, presidential hopefuls Lindsey Graham and George Pataki acknowledged that climate change is real and caused by humans. And this past September, 11 Republican leaders signed on to a resolution agreeing with the scientific consensus on climate change and endorsing steps to fight it.
 
4. Voters are speaking out.
According to recent polls, the vast majority of voters – including 54 percent of Republicans – believe in human-caused climate change. 87 percent of voters want a president who understands the science that affects public policy. And 59 percent of voters favor a presidential candidate who wants to take climate action.
 
Climate change is becoming less and less of a partisan issue, which is not just encouraging, but vital. As Hoffman says, “We cannot adequately solve this problem without all views in the debate: conservative, liberal and others.” The support of the business and faith sectors, fellow Republicans, and the majority of voters may make it easier for conservative leaders to step away from their old positions and embrace climate solutions. Let’s hope so.
 

Breaking the Link Between a Conservative Worldview and Climate Skepticism

By Andrew J. Hoffman, contributor to The Conversation
 
The tide is finally turning. In last night’s third Republican debates, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and former New York Governor George Pataki both acknowledged the scientific consensus that climate change is real and linked to human activities.
 
These candidates participated in the “undercard” debate of four before the longer debate with the remaining 10 Republican hopefuls. But their comments are a major step in breaking the link between a conservative worldview and climate skepticism.
Increasing commentary, both partisan and nonpartisan, is making it clear that the conservative position of denying climate change is untenable. The tide of the scientific evidence is too great to hold back, and the longer the Republican Party denies the existence of the issue, the longer it will be excluded from the discussion over what to do about it.
 
Global outliers
While the top 10 Republican candidates such as Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz continue to deny climate change exists or fall back on the mealy-mouthed “I’m not a scientist” defense, the Democratic candidates are putting forward proposals to address it. This is taking place against a backdrop where President Obama is taking action on numerous national and international fronts to address the issue. The train is leaving the station and the Republican Party is not even on the platform.
 
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Image credit: Rick Wilking/Reuters

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