Global warming is an extremely complex political issue. First and foremost, there is political conflict regarding whether or not global warming is occurring. There are groups working to both raise alarm over the issue and to minimize the concern regarding it, making it difficult for the general population to know what and who to believe. Second is the conflict regarding whether climate change is man-made, entirely natural, or natural but being expedited by human actions. Then there is conflict regarding what actions should or should not be taken in response to global warming. The biggest challenge surrounding the issue of global warming is the fact that the vast majority of the world’s economy revolves around energy sources or manufacturing techniques that produce greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming.
Climate change and environmental action are not issues that are clearly defined within party lines. While each party has a majority view on the issue, large percentages of the population sit outside of those views. Republican views on global warming are quite divided. A recent poll by Yale University showed that over half of Republicans believe that global warming is occurring, with 52 percent saying they do, 26 percent saying they do not, and 22 percent saying that they are unsure. Another recent poll revealed that almost half of Republican voters are more likely to support a candidate that believes in human-caused global warming and who is an advocate of government action to stop its effects on the environment.
When it comes to preventing the continuation of global warming, Republicans believe that efforts should not take a financial toll on the average American. Republicans support the development of renewable energy sources, but not if taxpayers have to pay for it. Market-based development of renewable energy, such as partnerships between traditional energy industries and renewable energy industries, can allow a more aggressive development of alternative energy sources such as wind, hydro, solar, biomass, geothermal, and tidal energy, without hindering the economy. While Republicans thoroughly support the development of these energy sources, they do not support their development at the expense of the country’s economy. They are against raising taxes on gas or electricity to discourage their use, but support tax breaks for companies that produce more electricity from water, wind and solar power. They also support rewarding companies that burn coal to make electricity with tax breaks if they used new methods to reduce air pollution.
This stance has been held by the Republican Party for many years, but it seems that the voters may be departing from this way of thinking. The recent poll by Yale University revealed that Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents strongly support the development of clean energy as the basis of America’s energy future and say the benefits of clean energy, such as energy independence, saving resources for future generations, and providing a better life for our children and grandchildren outweigh the costs of renewable energy, such as more government regulation or higher energy prices. 77 percent of Republicans state that the United States should be using more renewable energy, and that the use of renewable energy should be increased immediately. Furthermore, only 1 in 3 Republicans surveyed stated that they agree with their Party’s stance on climate change and about 1 in 2 agreed with the Party’s stance on how to meet the country’s energy needs. A large majority of those surveyed also stated that they felt their elected representatives were unresponsive to their views on this issue.
Global Warming And Elections
A recent poll by Stanford University, The New York Times, and environmental nonprofit Resources for the Future showed that almost half of Republican voters are more likely to vote for a candidate that believes global warming is occurring and takes a proactive approach to stopping it. The poll questioned voters across party lines, but the findings regarding Republican voters were considered to be the “most powerful findings” of the entire poll. Those surveyed were asked if they were more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate who believed “global warming has been happening for the past 100 years,” primarily because of humans’ “burning fuels and putting out greenhouse gases.” 48 percent of Republican respondents said they would be more likely to vote for such a candidate, 24 percent said they would be less likely to vote for such a candidate, and 26 percent said it would have no effect on their voting decision.
These findings are surprising, considering that a New York Times poll conducted with CBS in September of 2014 showed that 42 percent of Republicans considered global warming to be an environmental problem “that won’t have a serious impact.” However, it seems that the tides are turning, and that this issue could have a large impact on upcoming elections. This poll’s results, much like those from Yale University, showed a marked discrepancy between the beliefs of the voters and the stance of the Republican Party. Global Warming may sway future elections across party lines as well. The same poll revealed that two thirds of Americans overall are more likely to vote for candidates who believe in climate change and are dedicated to stopping it, and were less likely to vote for candidates that questioned or denied climate change or that it was caused by humans.
Democrats Vs. Republicans On Global Warming
Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to express concern about global warming or to state that the issue is important to them. In the poll conducted by Stanford University and the New York Times, 63 percent of Democrats said the issue of global warming was very or extremely important to them personally. In contrast, only 40 percent of independents and 18 percent of Republicans said the same. The majority of respondents that stated they believed the government should be doing more in regards to climate change were Democrats, with 91 percent of Democrats overall stating that the government should be taking some form of action regarding climate change. In 2014, President Barack Obama proposed a series of Environmental Protection Agency regulations that would reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. The Republican Party has viewed these efforts as a “war on coal” and has adamantly opposed them. However, it seems that a few candidates may be changing their stances as the 2016 election draws near.
Mitt Romney On Global Warming
Mitt Romney stands apart from his Party on the issue of climate change. However, it wasn’t always that way. In his 2012 presidential campaign, Romney flip-flopped regarding his beliefs on global warming. At times he not only dismissed Democratic concerns about global warming, but also pushed for a larger commitment to fossil fuels. At other times, he stated that he believed that climate change was real, and that he was committed to pushing for its stop. “I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer,” Romney told the Manchester Union-Leader in 2011. “And…I believe that humans contribute to that. I don’t know how much our contribution is to that, because I know there have been periods of greater heat and warmth in the past, but I believe that we contribute to that. So I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you’re seeing.” Later in the election process, he changed course, stating “We don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet,” and pledged to increase coal production. However, during a speech in preparation for the 2016 primaries, Romney indicated that his stance on the issue would be the latter this time around, not the former. Romney stated that, while he believes that the skeptics are right and that global warming is not real, he personally believes that it is both real and a very large problem. He also criticized Washington for their lack of action regarding the problem.
Chris Christie On Global Warming
New Jersey governor Chris Christie is another Republican who has stated that he believes in global warming. “I think global warming is real. I don’t think that’s deniable,” he stated at an event in New Hampshire. “And I do think human activity contributes to it.” Christie also believes that national efforts alone can’t prevent global warming or stop it. The U.S. or small groups of states “can’t be acting unilaterally,” Christie says. Not “when folks in China are doing things to the environment that we would never be done in our country.” Many have criticized Christie for not taking action as Governor to reduce emissions within New Jersey, and doubt whether his admission that global warming exists will actually lead to any activism on the issue.
Jeb Bush On Global Warming
Jeb Bush believes in climate change, but also believes that it is by no means the most important issue on the table at this moment. “The climate is changing and I’m concerned about that,” Bush stated. “But to be honest with you, I’m more concerned about the hollowing out of our country, the hollowing out of our industrial core, the hollowing out of our ability to compete in an increasingly competitive world.” He believes that the U.S. must first achieve energy independence. Then, we must work with other nations to resolve climate change. “We need to restore our competitive posture, which I think our energy revolution will allow us to do, and then simultaneously … be cognizant of the fact that we have this climate change issue and we need to work with the rest of the world to negotiate a way to reduce carbon emissions,” he said.
- Republican Party on Environment – On The Issues
- A National Survey of Republicans and Republican-‐Leaning Independents on Energy and Climate Change – The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication
- Most Republicans Say They Back Climate Action, Poll Finds – The New York Times
- Mitt Romney Shifts His Position on Climate Change—Again – Mother Jones
- Jeb Bush ‘concerned’ about climate change – The Hill
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