In recent times, young adolescents have grown hopeless about climate change. Leading the charge is the notion that the overwhelming majority of Republicans are climate skeptics, unwilling to act accordingly. However, new polling shows this falsehood is quickly changing as more younger Republicans are making climate policy a priority issue.
A Gallup survey found that Republicans aged 18-34 are significantly more concerned with the environment than older Republicans, with 32 percent saying they worry “a great deal” about the quality of the environment as well as 37 percent saying they worry a “fair amount.” This is in direct contrast to those aged 35-54 with only 18 percent worrying a great deal and just 14 percent of Republican respondents aged 55 and older agreeing.
Another poll from C3 Action found that only 14 percent of Republican voters “believe climate change is not happening” and that there is a bipartisan consensus for an “all of the above energy strategy.” These polls are not outliers; they are testaments to a growing common sentiment: human-caused climate change is happening. So why are Republicans considered climate skeptics when they’re the ones leading the charge toward common sense climate and energy policies?
The economy or the climate? Why not both?
Subscribe for ideas that support the environment and the people.
Since the days of Al Gore, Republicans have opposed climate policy solely because it allowed progressives to incorporate climate change into their agenda. For example, 62-year-old Congressman Bob Inglis (R-SC) said he opposed climate policy because “all I knew was that Al Gore was for it, and therefore I was against it.” By extension, a majority of conservative lawmakers are not skeptical about climate change but rather are skeptical of their progressive counterparts’ extreme efforts toward the issue, including multi-billion dollar spending sprees, higher taxes, more regulations and mandates, and other supposed silver bullets that do not effectively lower global emissions.
When climate policy was first at the center of American politics, several Republicans were quick to reject any stance that invoked themselves into that conversation. Now, the GOP is pushing for a long-term, structural change to make America energy independent and not reliant on foreign allies. At a time when young people have become increasingly anxious because of climate change — and some are even considering not having children — this is the opportunity of a lifetime for Republicans to seize the climate movement. Not with a doomsday tone nor through alarmist rhetoric but with sustainable solutions that will bolster America’s energy sector, increase energy security and lower the risks of climate change.
With public polling showing the consistency of younger Republicans wanting policy solutions, this demographic will have a bigger influence on elections and a large impact on the political scene. By making climate change an issue that impacts American livelihoods, young voters can see through the theatrics and dispel any idea that makes the GOP the party of climate denialism.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution that magically reduces our carbon footprint across the nation. Instead, working with party leadership and across the aisle will allow our elected officials to empower the private sector to provide durable economic and environmental solutions.
Conservative policymaking has always operated under the concept that initiatives set by right-leaning figures should not impose economic harm to American households and businesses. Through public policies that harvest American innovation while simultaneously knocking the alarmist mindset that causes hopelessness in young Americans, Republican leaders have become the face of the new climate-fighting era. Conservative environmentalism is here to stay and American adolescents are strengthening their role as a global leader in the energy space.
Jorge Velasco is a contributor for C3 and has multiple bylines in the Washington Examiner, Federalist, Daily Caller and more. He is a sophomore at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government. Follow him on Twitter @velascoAjorge.