What Conservatives Really Think About Clean Energy and Climate Solutions
Climate change has long been a partisan issue, and by some measures, America is more polarized on this subject than ever. But that doesn’t mean that all conservatives are opposed to climate action – far from it. Just this month, we’ve seen numerous examples of prominent conservative leaders speaking out in favor of clean energy and stronger climate policies.
In the first week of September, Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) co-hosted an event on how climate change impacts global security. Curbelo is co-chair of the House Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group that aims to educate House members about economically sound ways to reduce climate risks. As a representative of Florida’s 26th district, which includes the Everglades – currently under serious threat from climate change – Curbelo knows the dangers are real and require immediate action. He also has stressed that he is not alone in his beliefs, saying, “I have had many conversations with Republican colleagues from all over the country – even the deep South – and people are ready to move on this issue. They’re tired of the hyper-politicization of this issue.”
Recent events seem to bear this out. The following week, the House Climate Solutions Caucus added four new members, including two Republicans, Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and Mark Amodei (R-NV). Said Curbelo, “Their membership signifies the fact that climate change is not a regional concern, but a national one.” The caucus, which was founded in February, is now up to 20 members, demonstrating a growing willingness to work across the aisle to advance climate solutions and preserve the earth for future generations.
Last but not least, the second annual Conservative Clean Energy Summit was held in Washington, D.C. on September 22. The event, co-hosted by the Christian Coalition and Young Conservatives for Energy Reform, drew twice as many participants as the previous year, clear evidence of a shift among conservatives – especially young conservatives – towards energy alternatives.
The summit didn’t focus on climate change per se. As recent polls have shown, there is still wide disagreement among conservatives on whether climate change is happening, and if it is, whether or not it is caused by humans. Instead, the summit tapped into many of the values conservatives do share: energy independence, protecting natural resources, staying globally competitive, and creating a better world for our loved ones. A belief in human-caused climate change isn’t required for people to support good job opportunities, economic stability, or cleaner air and water. As Ash Mason, Southeast Director of the Christian Coalition, put it, “This is now a family value.”
Democrat or Republican, moderate, liberal, or conservative – we share more common ground than we think. In this particularly grueling election season, it’s more important than ever for us to remember this, and help make people aware that climate solutions benefit us all.