A small but growing number of Republican lawmakers are urging action on climate change, driven by shifting sentiment among GOP voters and the effects of global warming, from stronger hurricanes to more-destructive wildfires.
The group backs policies rooted in what they consider GOP principles, favoring market-based solutions rather than government regulations. Many are loyal supporters of President Trump, but they part with him on climate change, which he has dismissed as hyped.
In a memo circulated Wednesday to Republican congressional offices, the polling firm of longtime GOP strategist Frank Luntz warned that climate change was “a GOP vulnerability and a GOP opportunity.” The firm conducted a survey for the Climate Leadership Council, a policy group promoting its variation of a carbon tax, and said in the memo that 69% of Republican voters are concerned their party was “hurting itself with younger voters” because of its climate stance.
Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida says the GOP needs to advance sound conservative proposals to combat climate change and embrace science, or risk long-term political damage. “How can we as a party stand up to the generational challenges we face with globalization and automation and climate change if we don’t look credible to the body politic?” Mr. Gaetz said in an interview.
In April, Mr. Gaetz announced his “Green Real Deal” plan that seeks to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by fostering innovation and entrepreneurship and reducing government regulations on the development of clean-energy technology. His plan is a counter to the “Green New Deal” proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and others that involves large federal investments in buildings, industries and transportation systems to slash emissions. Republican Rep. Garret Graves’s state of Louisiana depends on the oil-and-gas industry but is losing land partly as a result of sea-level rise. As the ranking minority member on the newly created House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, he has favored federally funded financial incentives for state and local investments in resiliency projects such as flood control.