In interviews, several Republican lawmakers who signed the resolution indicated they would consider supporting legislation to incentivize the use of clean energy.
Seventeen Republican lawmakers, including Elise Stefanik of New York, Carlos Curbelo of Florida, Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Mia Love of Utah, Don Bacon of Nebraska, and Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania, introduced a resolution on Wednesday that urges the House of Representatives to “address the causes and effects” of climate change, according to a press release sent out by Costello’s office.
The resolution, which revives a call to action endorsed by nearly a dozen House Republicans in 2015, describes environmental protection as a “conservative principle.” And it warns that “if left unaddressed, the consequences of a changing climate have the potential to adversely impact all Americans.”
In an apparent indication of just how difficult it is to get a group of congressional Republicans to endorse any kind of call for climate action, the resolution itself does not explicitly spell out and affirm the scientific consensus that greenhouse gases generated by human activity are the primary driver of global warming. Instead, the declaration notes only that human activity has “been found to have an impact” on a changing climate, and calls for “efforts to balance” that impact.
Bacon said in an interview that while “the evidence is clear that there has been an increase in temperature. It’s always a little bit debatable how much is the human element versus cyclical.” But, he said: “Regardless, you still want a cleaner planet,” adding that if Earth’s temperatures continue to rise, that would be “a serious threat.”
Still, even a symbolic call to action from Republican lawmakers could make the political debate over climate change less polarized. “If more GOP lawmakers start talking about climate change as a real and important risk, and start supporting climate action, that is likely to change the conversation within the GOP and of course, the country at large,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, the director of Yale University’s Program on Climate Change Communication. “In this case, political leadership matters. Cues from political elites such as public statements and stances of elected officials influence the views of the party rank and file.”
Many Americans, including Republican voters, are concerned about man-made global warming. Gallup recently found that a majority of Americans are worried about rising temperatures and believe human activity is responsible for climate change, with 84 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of Republicans reporting concern.