On November 8, the 2022 midterms will take place. With the current Senate split 50-50 between parties, and with some races’ margins as tight as Nevada’s 46% to 45.9%, a few tenths of a point’s advantage in just one race this election cycle could be the difference between a Democrat or a Republican Senate. So, every issue counts.
While pocketbook issues like inflation and gas prices are top of mind for voters, an issue like climate change can still impact close races. In fact, polling from C3 Action found that 54% of voters would be more likely to support a candidate who prioritizes climate change solutions.
If Republicans want to claim the Senate majority, the issues that will matter are climate change and energy affordability. Encouragingly, the GOP has taken significant strides toward making climate and energy security a priority since the 2020 election cycle. In July 2021, House Republicans established the conservative climate caucus to promote pragmatic and effective climate solutions. In November 2021, center-right UK and US conservative organizations held the first-ever Global Conservative Climate Summit to exchange ideas about developing market-based environmental policy agendas. This past summer, conservatives in the House, led by Leader McCarthy, unveiled the Energy, Climate, and Conservation Task Force to advance free-market solutions to bolster our energy security and reduce global emissions.
This is an ideal moment for a green GOP. Over this past year, 24% of Americans sacrificed some extent of their basic expenses (food and medicine) in order to afford their energy bill. In 2020, Russia supplied Europe with 43% of its natural gas. And in 2019, China produced 90% of the world’s rare earth metals, alloys, and permanent magnets. The fight for greater sustainability is one intertwined with the conservative causes of safeguarding the U.S. economy, bolstering America’s leadership on the world stage, and maintaining national security.
So, it’s unsurprising that climate and energy security is being increasingly integrated into the Republican platform. This move reflects that the party is now sharing its priorities with those of voters. Forty-seven percent of young GOP constituents believe that the federal government is not addressing climate change enough. And young Republicans overwhelmingly support conservation- and market-based solutions to climate change, with 73% approving of tax credits for businesses developing carbon capture technology and a whopping 90% behind planting about a trillion trees as a form of natural carbon capture.
In fact, the enormous GOP support for these policies extends across the party–not just among its youngest voters. Seventy-one percent of Republicans 65 and older back carbon capture tax credits, and 87% of the same group supports the trillion-trees approach. Evidently, conservation and tackling climate change are issues that most Republican voters care deeply about.
The Republican Party’s future as a dominant political bloc rests in part on finalizing and promoting its own climate and energy platform, one which helps to nullify foreign and domestic economic threats. Thus, not only in Tuesday’s extraordinarily competitive election but in all election cycles going forward, an emphasis on free market climate and energy solutions will be key to Republican success and meaningful conservative leadership.
Nadia Suben is the leader of the American Conservation Coalition’s New York City branch, as well as the founder of the organization’s Conservatives for Clean Cities initiative.