Trump and The GOP on Climate Change: "Just a very, very expensive form of tax"
President Trump has made his opinions on climate change very apparent to the American people: it isn’t real. But is this sentiment indicative of the GOP as a whole? Well, not quite, but its pretty close. One of the issues that many environmentalists face is the push back from conservatives regarding climate change and its validity.
Republican Rep. Chris Gibson of New York at the 2015 Young Conservatives For Energy Reform Summit stated, “If conservation does not align with conservative principles then words have no meaning at all.” He was speaking to a room full of young conservatives, genuinely interested in the growing concern that is climate change, at a time when only 49% of the Republican Party believed that climate change existed.
In 2016, Trump stated that climate change was merely a “very, very expensive tax” that is “perpetuated by China.” He has worked hard to roll back the climate change policies that were put in place by the Obama administration; most notably was his announcement in 2017 to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. While we cannot formally withdraw from this agreement until 2020, this was extremely controversial at the time, with many citing this announcement as being indicative of President Trump’s lack of concern for environmental issues.
One of the most concerning factors is the GOP’s seemingly Trump-like approach to climate change. From Matt Viser in a front-page article from The Post earlier this month:
Sen.-elect Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said falsely in the lead-up to her campaign that the Earth has started to cool, and argued inaccurately that scientists have not reached a consensus on climate change.
In Florida, which has been pummeled by hurricanes, Sen.-elect Rick Scott has acknowledged rising and warmer seas could be harmful to his state but won’t attribute it to human activity.
And Sen. John Neely Kennedy, told reporters that while the Earth may be getting hotter, “I’ve seen many persuasive arguments that it’s just a continuation of the warming up from the Little Ice Age.”
There are clearly a lot of anti-climate change sentiments among policy makers in the GOP. However, this does not necessarily reflect the Republican voters, particularly millennials, who tend to support environmentally-friendly policies the most of any demographic. In 2018, the number of Republicans who believe in climate change has jumped to 64%, and only 46% of millennial Republicans favor the expansion of coal mining. However, these numbers still pale in comparison to the 92% of Democrats and 73% of Independents that believe in climate change. But, millennial conservatives will hopefully change the climate change narrative, and these Trump-like, fallacious statements regarding environmental policy will become the exception, not the norm.