After decades of climate denialism, a position still held by some American conservatives, Republican congressmen have designed their own program to combat the climate crisis, a platform with more than 30 measures what have they called ‘Energy Innovation Agenda‘.
Led by Californian Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republicans took advantage of the fact that the White House organized the recent world climate summit and the Democrats relaunched their transition plan ecosocial known as Green New Deal —Which the opposition describes as “job destroyer”- to present your counterproposal.
“At least they are paying some attention to the weather, in their own way, and I think it’s due to the polls.”
However, the Conservatives’ Program to Limit Global Warming does not include an emissions reduction goal. Nor does he bet on the solar and wind technology in the country. Yes it encourages “unleashing the potential ”of hydropower, and underlines the role of nuclear, natural gas and clean hydrogen. It also vindicates the fossil infrastructure projects frustrated in the early days of the Biden administration, such as the oleoducto Keystone XL. As the main solution, it defends the methods of carbon capture and sequestration, incipient technologies criticized by some specialists for not being effective and serving as an “excuse” to continue with the burning of fossil fuels.
“The plan in general is misguided,” he values Barbara Gottlieb, director of the environmental program of Physicists for Social Responsibility, an organization based in Washington DC that mobilizes scientists towards the climate cause and the defense of public health. “Instead of opting for solar or wind energy, which are the most accessible and affordable, they have opted for very expensive and high-risk carbon sequestration solutions, which have still been proven efficient or scalable for considered commercially viable”, He argues. For this expert, it is the Republicans’ way of turning green without altering the status quo. Above all, he criticizes that the plan defends nuclear energy and natural gas, which do not include a social justice perspective with which to protect marginalized communities.
For its part, Daniel Fiorino, director of Center for Environmental Policy from American University, considers that nuclear energy is important in the decarbonization process, but regrets that the Republican plan circumvents “any type of limits on emissions.” “They don’t want to be too aggressive, ni displace fossil fuels. That is the main limitation ”, he judges.
In any case, the mere fact that the Republicans have finally come out of the denial position in which they had remained until now is, for Fiorino, a “positive sign”. “At least they are paying some attention to the weather, in their own way, and I think the reason is that polls show that concern among voters is growing as the people see more evidence of the effects of climate change, a more extreme climate, rising sea levels in coastal areas, heat waves, and this type of phenomenon ”, explains Fiorino.
FROM FORECAST TO EVIDENCE
It coincides that many states with a conservative majority, the so-called ‘red states‘alluding to Republicans political color, are precisely areas very vulnerable to the climate crisis and where the impacts are already being perceived. Seven of the ten states that will have to bear a greater cost due to climate change are states where this match has traditionally won: Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arizona, North Carolina Y Georgia.
Still, climate change continues considered as one of the most polarized issues in American society. Although surveys show that the climate crisis is a growing concern in general, the gap between the perception of Magnitude of the problem voters have and that of Conservatives remains broad, as evidenced by analyzes of the Pew Research Center.
Climate polarization has even reached overcome the one that occurs around issues as entrenched as abortion, as revealed by a 2019 study. While Democrat-leaning respondents ranked warming as their third priority issue, moderate Republicans ranked it at the top. 23rd place of your priorities, and the most conservatives in the 29th.
For Fiorino, the key to understanding this change in Republicans’ discourse on climate is in the independent and in the young. According to this expert, the new plan of the opposition party is not as directed towards its voters more conservative but rather tries appeal to those possibly undecided, who do not identify with one or the other, as well as the new generations, more aware of the climate crisis and the way in which it compromises your future.