Despite Nationwide Extreme Weather, GOP Fails to Mention Climate Change at Convention

Senator Tim Scott speaks at RNC Convention. Image: PBS News Hour Screenshot

Last week the Democratic National Convention emphasized climate change as a social justice issue as well as an opportunity to create jobs and rebuild necessary infrastructure (you can read our coverage of it here). This week it’s the Republicans’ turn to present their vision for America to voters–though they haven’t put forth a new platform and have instead opted to reuse their version from 2016 before Donald Trump became president.

As Vox explained, “That means Republican delegates will not go through the usual process of deliberating over policies and principles to determine what the party stands for in 2020, as Democrats recently did.”

Why This Matters: The Republican platform denies the national security implications of climate change and called the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “a political mechanism, not an unbiased scientific institution” stating that “its unreliability is reflected in its intolerance toward scientists and others who dissent from its orthodoxy.”

The 2020 Republican National Convention is happening at a time when massive climate change-driven wildfires have ravaged Western states, a series of tropical storms is set to inundate Louisana and Texas, and rising heat has fueled extreme weather around the country this summer. This means that one of the two major political parties has no plan to address the growing risk of the climate crisis and the lives it might claim. It’s more than out of touch with reality, it’s negligent.

The Line Up: Last night prominent Republican lawmakers like Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, as well as Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) made the case to American voter that the GOP had the better vision for the future. However, while all three speakers come from exceptionally climate-vulnerable states that are experiencing stronger hurricanes, not a single one mentioned how Republicans would protect the lives that are in harm’s way in their states. Haley did mention that Democratic nominee Joe Biden wants to ban fracking (which isn’t true) but didn’t state what Republicans would do with oil and gas jobs that are diminishing despite which political party sits in the White House. Young people don’t want to work in the oil and gas field and the industry will have an exceedingly difficult time luring workers away from the renewable energy sector.

The Consequences: Without a plan to tackle climate change, the Republican party risks alienating young voters–even within their own party–who view climate change as a major threat. Last night’s convention simply expressed no ideas for how to tackle a crisis that poses a systemic threat to the U.S. economy. As The Hill reported,

The GOP has defended its platform as appropriately considering the environment and the economy.

Republican National Committee spokesperson Mandi Merrit argued that President Trump has “balanced environmental protection with economic growth, prioritizing American innovation.”

Joe Biden’s energy agenda would send gas prices soaring, destroy over 10 million jobs, and lead to wealthier and more globally influential adversaries like Iran, Venezuela, and Russia,” Merrit said in an email.”

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