I am really, really tired of hearing about how Republicans are opposed to doing anything to fix climate change. It becomes a fatalistic argument that the conservatives will never budge on climate issues and will ultimately be a main cause of runaway climate change and all the disaster scenarios that I am also very tired of hearing about. We know causes of the problem, we know the unfathomably huge consequences, but the main failure of the global climate action movement thus far has been a lack of emphasis on pragmatic solutions that are compatible with our current political climate.
Luckily for us, the climate isn’t the only thing changing faster than many of us thought; the political atmosphere regarding climate change is rapidly evolving in a positive and inspiring way. For example, in the last several months, two important and groundbreaking events have taken place in our government. First, Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., with 12 Republican co-sponsors, signed on to the Gibson resolution (HR 424) regarding the need for conservative environmental stewardship and action toward climate change mitigation. This resolution is an extremely important first step for turning the tide in the Republican Party from the unfortunate status quo of denial and apathy regarding climate change toward acceptance that action is necessary and compatible with core conservative values.
Another very recent and exciting development is the formation of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus by Reps. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., and Ted Deutch, D-Fla. This paves the path for Democrats and Republicans to work together toward actual solutions to climate change, and builds upon the foundation for conservative climate action laid out by the Gibson resolution. This caucus will “serve as an organization to educate members (of Congress) on economically-viable options to reduce climate risk and protect our nation’s economy, security, infrastructure, agriculture, water supply and public safety.” The caucus is still taking its first steps, but the plan is that members will be added two at a time: one Republican and one Democrat.
So how did these two amazing developments in bipartisan climate action come about? With help from extremely dedicated Citizens’ Climate Lobby volunteers, of course. The Citizens’ Climate Lobby was vital for the formation of these two groups; volunteers in both Gibson’s and Curbelo’s districts met with them many times and helped guide and support them regarding climate action. Similarly, building relationships with members of Congress and informing them about how they can support climate action solutions, especially the CCL’s Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal to price carbon and grow our economy, is exactly what we do right here in Idaho, and so can you.
Clearly, climate change is far too big a problem to be a one-party issue. As Idahoans, we have a particularly powerful opportunity to urge our Republican members of Congress to take leadership by supporting bipartisan, market-based policies to ensure a stable climate and a vibrant economy.
Patrick Thomas is a graduate student at Boise State University who is researching ways to upcycle dairy waste into algae-based bioplastics and biofuels, and is a volunteer with the Boise chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.