It has been a rough week to be a Republican committed to addressing climate change.
Ideally, our party convention would have given the challenge of climate change serious attention and speakers would have proposed conservative solutions to this existential crisis. Unfortunately, that just didn’t happen.
Over the course of the four nights of the Republican National Convention, solutions to climate change were not mentioned once. Sure, there was plenty of discussion about the Democrats’ bad policies and regulations that hurt our economy. But what wasn’t mentioned was anything about a conservative alternative to the very real threat posed by climate change.
This is in stark contrast to Democrats, where the issue of climate change came up every single day of their convention. On day two, Democrats held a Council on the Environment and Climate Crisis meeting with over 5,000 participants. Most of the convention keynote speakers, including the former Democratic presidents, mentioned climate change in their speeches. And the Democratic presidential nominee, Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Did President Biden institute a vaccine mandate for only half the nation's teachers? Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms MORE, listed climate change as one of the four "historic crises" we are facing as a country and includes it as one of the four main pillars of his policy agenda.
In total, the climate was mentioned over 50 times over the course of the Democratic Convention.
According to the latest polling by Morning Consult released this week, more than half of Republican voters want Congress to prioritize legislation increasing clean energy production (62 percent) and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (56 percent). This shows just how out of step the Republican convention was from the mainstream of the Republican Party. Polling we have commissioned in the key swing state of Florida showed Floridians strongly prefer a congressional candidate who “acknowledges climate change and is working to address it” (71 percent) over a candidate who “denies climate change” (15 percent).
This is unsurprising given the extreme weather events we have seen this year, such as the California wildfires and the increased hurricane activity in the gulf, which will only get worse as a result of climate change. Our Florida polling showed that 57.6 percent of voters agreed with the statement that “the effects of climate change have or will impact me personally” and as the effects of climate change become more pronounced, we can anticipate an increase in voters demanding action.
Sadly, Republicans risk repeating the same mistakes made during the health care debate, where many railed against ObamaCare but were unprepared with a replacement when they were back in power. They went on to fail to repeal and replace ObamaCare, and this failure was a large part of why Republicans lost the House in 2018.
The lack of climate change solutions being promoted by the national Republican Party risks undermining down ballot candidates in competitive districts and states who have changed their tone on climate in recent years. Responsible Republican members of Congress who consider the science, economics, and politics of climate change now speak openly about the need to address it. That’s heartening and better than two years ago.
And that is where the Republican Party needs to be, and sooner rather than later. Otherwise, Republicans, particularly those who have not addressed climate change in states where the voters are increasingly insisting that they do so, risk losing support and potentially even their election.
Alex Flint is executive director of the Alliance for Market Solutions.