They [GOP] don’t want to look like they are denying the science, but they don’t want to look like they’re anti-free market and support regulation. But the fact is, there’s no way to solve this without regulating and mandating the cut of emissions. — Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University
They [GOP] don’t want to look like they are denying the science, but they don’t want to look like they’re anti-free market and support regulation. But the fact is, there’s no way to solve this without regulating and mandating the cut of emissions. — Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University
Amid Extreme Weather, a Shift Among Republicans on Climate Change
Many Republicans in Congress no longer deny that Earth is heating because of fossil fuel emissions. But they say abandoning oil, gas and coal will harm the economy.

After a decade of disputing the existence of climate change, many leading Republicans are shifting their posture amid deadly heat waves, devastating drought and ferocious wildfires that have bludgeoned their districts and unnerved their constituents back home.

Members of Congress who long insisted that the climate is changing due to natural cycles have notably adjusted that view, with many now acknowledging the solid science that emissions from burning oil, gas and coal have raised Earth’s temperature.

But their growing acceptance of the reality of climate change has not translated into support for the one strategy that scientists said in a major United Nations report this week is imperative to avert an even more harrowing future: stop burning fossil fuels.

Instead, Republicans want to spend billions to prepare communities to cope with extreme weather, but are trying to block efforts by Democrats to cut the emissions that are fueling the disasters in the first place.


Dozens of Republicans in the House and Senate said in recent interviews that quickly switching to wind, solar and other clean energy will damage an economy that has been underpinned by fossil fuels for more than a century.

... It’s a message supported by polling that shows Republican voters are more concerned with jobs than the environment. A Pew Research Center survey in May found just 10 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning independents were deeply concerned with addressing climate change, while a majority thought President Biden’s ambitious plans to curb climate change would hurt the economy.

With the exception of young Republicans who have been agitating for their party to take climate change more seriously, conservative voters as a whole have not shifted much on the issue over the past 10 years. That skepticism may have reached a pinnacle with President Donald J. Trump, who famously derided climate science, loosened emissions rules and expanded oil and gas drilling on public lands.

... The majority of Republican lawmakers back less aggressive responses popular with their voters, like planting trees to absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or offering tax credits to businesses that capture carbon dioxide after it has been released into the air by power plants or industrial sites.

“What they are opposing is any program to meaningfully reduce emissions,” said David G. Victor, co-director of the Deep Decarbonization Initiative at the University of California, San Diego.

... “They don’t want to look like they are denying the science, but they don’t want to look like they’re anti-free market and support regulation,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University. “But the fact is, there’s no way to solve this without regulating and mandating the cut of emissions. There’s no magical easy ‘innovation-only’ way out of this.”

Democrats say the tools exist now to stave off a hotter planet: rapidly expand wind and solar energy, beef up energy storage and the electric grid, electrify transportation, and make buildings energy efficient.


Many of those elements are tucked into a $3.5 trillion budget package that Democrats hope to pass in the fall. The budget bill includes a tool called a clean electricity payment program, designed to drive utilities to produce an increasing amount of electricity from low and zero-carbon sources like wind, solar and nuclear energy. If approved, the measure would be the most consequential climate bill in United States history, putting the country on track to hit President Biden’s goal of roughly halving domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. But to get it through the evenly split Congress, every Democrat would need to support it and at least two, Senator Joe Manchin of coal-rich West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have indicated they may oppose it.

Republican leaders, meanwhile, have made it clear they will vote against the budget bill, arguing that it is too expensive and that mandates like a clean electricity standard and government-funded electric vehicle expansion will hurt taxpayers and consumers.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/13/climate/republicans-climate-change.html