By Evan Lehmann, ClimateWire on July 19, 2016
CLEVELAND—Christian Republicans promoted a transition to clean energy here last night, about an hour after GOP delegates approved a party platform that disavows aggressive action on climate change and downplays renewable energy.
The contrast isn’t new, said Angel Garcia, the national outreach director for Young Conservatives for Energy Reform, a group connected to the Christian Coalition of America. He and other organizers say they’re appealing to millennial party activists to support policies like long-term tax credits for wind and solar power, a national renewable portfolio standard and updated state laws that reward the use of distributed energy.
“We have to reach them,” Garcia said, “because they’ll be on the platform committee” in the future.
Current delegates came to a different conclusion.
The platform approved by a voice vote yesterday evening doesn’t explicitly question the science behind climate change. But it calls for reduced funding for renewable energy and international adaptation programs, and it seeks an end to the global agreement reached in Paris late year to cut greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
The 66-page document also rejects the idea of an economywide carbon price, drawing a sharp contrast with drafts of the Democratic platform, which endorses that policy.
“We oppose any carbon tax,” the GOP platform says. “It would increase energy prices across the board, hitting hardest at the families who are already struggling to pay their bills in the Democrats’ no-growth economy.”
Instead, it urges private investors to develop carbon capture and sequestration technology.
‘FAR FROM’ A PRESSING NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUE
The platform also warns that if Donald Trump wins the presidential election, he would reorient the government’s approach to analyzing climate change. The document does not outwardly reject the underlying science behind global warming, but it does question its accuracy.
“Information concerning a changing climate, especially projections into the long-range future, must be based on dispassionate analysis of hard data,” it says. “We will enforce that standard throughout the executive branch, among civil servants and presidential appointees alike.”
Republicans also downplayed the role of climate change on national security, a topic that Young Conservatives for Energy Reform has focused on as a key challenge. The group regularly asks military generals to talk to members of the armed forces about the risks of running fuel convoys in war zones and the human costs of defending foreign oil fields.
“Climate change is far from this nation’s most pressing national security issue,” the platform reads. “This is the triumph of extremism over common sense, and Congress must stop it.”
It also calls for an end to U.S. involvement with the United Nations on climate issues, including the United States’ involvement with the more than 190 nations that negotiated the Paris Agreement.
“We reject the agendas of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, which represent only the personal commitments of their signatories,” the document reads, adding that those deals are not binding.
It also calls for an “immediate” halt to U.S. funding for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, because the group granted membership to the Palestinians “as a state.” It cites a 1994 law, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, that it says bars such funding. Providing additional money, it says, would be “illegal.”
The platform prioritizes fossil fuels, but it also gives a nod to renewable energy, as long as it’s affordable without taxpayer support.
“We support the development of all forms of energy that are marketable in a free economy without subsides, including coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power, and hydropower,” it says. “We encourage the cost-effective development of renewable energy sources—wind, solar, biomass, biofuel, geothermal, and tidal energy—by private capital.”
Michele Combs, chairwoman of Young Conservatives for Energy Reform, said she believes the platform is not representative of the Republican Party’s views on clean energy policy.
“Even though it’s not represented that well in the platform, we think there’s a lot of support in the party,” she said, pointing to polls that show millennials see it as a “value” issue, similar to family and marriage issues seen as important by older party members.
“It’s not a taboo issue anymore,” Combs said.
Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. E&E provides daily coverage of essential energy and environmental news at www.eenews.net.