Will Faith Guide Conservative Republicans to Climate Action?

Major media outlets propagate a polarized narrative when it comes to climate leaders and conservatives, and while the GOP has been slow to join climate solutions, a growing number are starting to see the light. Republicans, the House majority leaders, are experiencing a change in the way they think and, more importantly, vote on climate solutions, according to a recent poll.

Justin Talbot-Zorn shared in his article for the Washington Post, Republicans are starting to see the light of climate action, and it has a lot to do with faith. A significant number of Republican leaders identify as Christian, with a sizable portion identifying as Evangelical Christian. Groups such as our partner, Interfaith Power and Light, as well as Young Evangelicals for Climate Action and Evangelical Environmental Network have taken the task of conservative outreach to a whole new level, and rightly so. As Talbot-Zorn shared, "It’s impossible to solve the climate crisis without winning conservatives to the cause."

Republicans might actually be willing to do something about climate change

Justin Talbot-Zorn | The Washington Post

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.

At this make-or-break moment for curbing emissions, we need to accept an inconvenient truth: It’s impossible to solve the climate crisis without winning conservatives to the cause. Believe it or not, this shouldn’t be reason for despair.

There’s evidence that conservative views on climate are evolving. According to a recent poll commissioned by a top GOP donor and conducted by three respected Republican pollsters, a majority of Republicans — including 54 percent of self-identified conservatives — not only believe in human-induced climate change but would support a carbon tax if the money were rebated or paired with an accompanying tax cut. Sixty-six percent of conservative Republicans said they would support requirements that electric utilities include renewable power in their power generation mix, and 87 percent supported policies to promote installation of rooftop solar panels if they would allow homeowners to save money by selling power back to the grid.

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