Republicans have no plan for the climate crisis

The GOP will never be part of the climate solution. The RNC offers definitive proof.

A screenshot of Kimberly Guilfoyle’s speech at the RNC superimposed over a Getty Images wildfire picture. I’m a writer, not an artist, OK?

If you’re still holding out hope that the Republican Party will come around on climate change, I have some bad news.

As GOP leaders took their podiums on Monday and Tuesday, a massive hurricane was barreling toward Louisiana with 100 mph winds and a possible 15-foot storm surge. Unprecedented heat and wildfire were taking over the American West, killing people, forcing mass evacuations, and creating a toxic stew of dangerous air.

At the same time, scientists from all over the country were saying loudly and confidently that these horrors were being made worse by human-caused climate change.

But at their convention this week, Republicans said nothing. Nothing about the worsening wildfires; the intensifying hurricanes; nor the rising, sweltering heat.

They’ve said nothing about how these worsening events are making millions of peoples’ lives more expensive, more dangerous, and more mentally and physically stressful.

For Republican Party leaders, these worsening events just aren’t a problem, something their policy platform for 2020 makes clear. The platform for this year’s convention is just a verbatim recycling of the 2016 platform, which states that “climate change is far from this nation’s most pressing national security issue,” and that Congress “must stop” the “extremism” surrounding the issue.

Indeed, as economically devastating climate-fueled weather events gripped the nation, the Republican Party’s 2020 platform actually pledged to make climate change worse. It didn’t say so in direct language, of course—rather, it said so through promises to expand fossil fuel production, as the non-profit Environmental Action explains:

The RNC platform on energy calls Coal “clean” endorses an “All of the Above” energy strategy — by which they seem to mean “anything below” since it specifically says we must develop all “American God-given resources” while deriding investment in wind and solar as “venture capital… for risky endeavors.” …

The platform specifically says the RNC is “committed to approving the Keystone XL Pipeline and to streamlining permitting for the development of other oil and natural gas pipelines.” … It also specifically supports drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, and just about anywhere else they can think to name.

GOP fear-mongers on climate policy, not climate change

While Republican leaders have not yet uttered a word about climate change at their convention, they have repeatedly attacked Democrats for attempting to solve it.

Weirdly enough, most of their attacks aren’t even true. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, for example, claimed in her speech that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden supports policies “like banning fossil fuels.” This probably should be true, based on the fact that solving climate change requires phasing out fossil fuel production. But it’s not.

McDaniel also claimed Biden would be “eliminating 10 million good-paying oil and gas jobs” through his $2 trillion climate plan. It’s unclear where this figure comes from; perhaps it’s because Biden’s climate plan promises to create 10 million clean energy jobs, and she assumes that means oil and gas jobs will be lost to replace them. Again, based on the science, oil and gas jobs probably should be phased out and replaced with clean energy jobs. But that’s just not something Biden has promised to do.

The list of climate policy fear-mongering at the DNC goes on. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, for example, suggested that a Biden administration would “ban fracking.” Once again, this is not something Biden has pledged to do. Biden has explicitly said fracking “is not going to be on the chopping block" if he's elected president.

This is what extremism looks like — and we don’t have time for it

Through their initial blatant climate denial and subsequent calls for “moderation,” Republicans have long sought to paint Democrats calling for climate action as hyperbolic, fear-mongering, and divorced from scientific reality. This is projection. The reality is the opposite.

When it comes to climate change, Republicans are the extremists. Faced with a clear financial and social catastrophe, their solution is… nothing. Not one damn thing. In fact, their solution is to add more fuel to the fire—more oil, more gas, more fossil fuels. It’s as if Republicans are proposing to injecting Americans with deadly toxins in order to eradicate a disease. Wait, what?

I’ve argued this before in The New Republic, but I’ll repeat it here: “It takes a warped mind to believe that the real threat to civilization isn’t climate change, but government action to reduce climate change. And it takes yet another warped mind to consider that person worthy of a powerful position in the federal government.”

It also takes a warped mind to believe these people will change their minds in the timeframe scientists have given us to solve this crisis. If indeed this is the Republicans Party’s vision on climate change for the next four years, then there is no room for compromise.

This week, the GOP offered definitive proof that their party in its current iteration will never be part of any meaningful or effective climate solution. At this year’s Republican National Convention, they made it clear: If Americans want to solve the climate crisis, they will have to do it without Republican help.

Preserving a safe climate requires halving carbon emissions within the next decade. How do you want to spend it?

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