The Utah Republican Party just had arguably its most successful election cycles in decades. Not only did they win every statewide race, but they won every federal race as well. And, in addition to winning virtually every race outside Salt Lake County, for the first time in decades, Republicans now hold a veto-proof supermajority on the Salt Lake County Council.
However, if Republicans hope to continue winning elections in the future, and appeal to a younger generation, it is time to start addressing the “elephant in the room,” so to speak. In this case, that elephant is climate change.
The next generation of Republican voters needs our elected leaders in Washington to put forth market-based solutions to address the impact of climate change in a way that aligns with free-market, conservative values.
The science behind climate change doesn’t leave much room for debate—a fact that my generation is keenly aware of. According to a recent CBS News poll, 7 in 10 Americans between the ages of 18 and 20 believe that climate change is a serious problem. Interestingly, half of all Republicans under the age of 45 also feel the same way.
The issue of climate change is no longer a matter of left versus right—and continuing to view it in such a partisan manner will only hurt Republicans’ future electoral chances. Data from the Pew Research Center shows that Republicans are losing support from younger voters while Democrats are gaining it. Continuing to ignore climate change will only continue to isolate our party from this increasingly important demographic.
That is why this new Republican leadership on climate change is a game changer. As conservatives, now is our chance to ensure that the solutions put forward are ones that will address climate change in a way that actually spurs American innovation, creates jobs, and strengthens our economy. If we do not engage in the conversation happening around this issue today, we will likely forfeit the opportunity to impact the kinds of solutions that are adopted tomorrow.
Fortunately, there seems to be a growing movement within the Republican Party to address these concerns head-on, and work with Democrats to advance pro-growth solutions. The Growing Climate Solutions Act in the Senate, for example, would help American farmers, ranchers, and foresters access existing carbon credit markets more easily and efficiently.
Through a market-based approach, this legislation would incentivize sustainable agricultural practices that reduce carbon emissions while providing America’s farmers with additional revenue streams and even improving soil conditions to increase productivity. Both Fortune 500 companies and conservative organizations alike support the act, and it would be wonderful to see more members of the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, like Senator Mitt Romney, co-sponsor this much-needed legislation.
As the director of the Utah Young Republicans, it is heartening to see more Republican legislators at the state and federal level taking the reins on climate change, including Utah’s own U.S. Representative John Curtis (R-UT03), who has become a national voice calling on Republicans to lead out on this issue. At the state level, Republicans like state Rep. Steve Handy have also spearheaded efforts aimed at improving air quality in our state by investing in electric vehicle charging stations and expanding telecommuting options for state employees.
The next generation of Republicans is watching. Closely. And we are excited to see the kind of leadership that is being provided by elected officials like Congressman Curtis and Rep. Handy. It is, after all, precisely the kind of leadership that the Republican Party needs to not only ensure that conservative principles will be used to address climate change in the future, but to continue to win elections, as they have in 2020.