What will it take to get conservative Republicans to address climate change?

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© Chris Tackett

Chris Hayes recently spoke with Bob Inglis, a former Republican Congressman working to encourage Republicans to care about addressing climate change.

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Inglis sees progress among young Republicans:

I can feel some momentum. For example, the college Republicans in Wisconsin just recently passed a resolution saying let's act, let's do something about climate change. They said, you know, Wisconsin is the birthplace of the Republican party, good ideas come from here, so the environmental Right starts here now. That's a data point that helps me. Another one is a colleague of mine from R street won a debate among conservatives when conservatives heard for an hour and a half this discussion of a revenue neutral carbon tax, they said yes.

David Roberts doubts climate science can be rendered conservative-friendly with today's Republican Party:

So it’s not enough to find some throwback moderate like Bob Inglis (who got Tea Partied out of Congress!) or some randos in a think tank who like carbon taxes and say, “Look, see, Republicans get it!” That’s just sleight of hand. The question is whether there’s a message on climate that could reach the actually existing Republican base.

That’s why, when it comes down to it, I just don’t think there’s any way to make the facts of climate change congenial to the contemporary U.S. conservative perspective. Once they accept the facts, the severity and urgency of the climate crisis, they are committed to either a) supporting vigorous government policy meant to diminish the power of some of their wealthiest constituents, or b) passively accepting widespread suffering.

Cognitively speaking, that’s an untenable position for them. That’s why they avoid it by rejecting the science. There’s no way to package the science in a way that avoids this dilemma. It is today’s hyper-conservatism, not climate communications, that is ultimately going to have to change.

For more on this, in May, Coral Davenport had an excellent piece on the intra-Party conflict between moderate Republicans and climate change deniers.

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