Changing politics

Source: By Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner • Posted: Monday, August 24, 2020

 President Trump’s re-election campaign posted a second-term agenda Sunday night that contains no mention of climate change.

Meanwhile, Republican National Committee members voted to extend the party’s 2016 platform, which mostly criticizes the Obama administration’s “top-down, command-and-control” climate agenda without offering other ideas.

The political stakes: Trump, if he wins, won’t be on the ballot again. But some Republicans say it’s risky not to differentiate the party from Trump.

“The biggest climate-related political risk is that Republican candidates, both incumbents and newcomers, will not campaign on or work towards addressing climate change as long as Trump is in office,” said Shane Skelton, a former energy adviser to former GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan, who runs the consulting group S2C Pacific.

Public sentiment on the climate has changed over the past four years, including among young Republicans, who have become more sensitive to worsening floods, wildfires, and sea level rise.

“Young people are widely demanding action, but need representation and leadership. Meanwhile, the planet gets warmer and the effects of climate become more obvious,” Joseph Majkut, a climate scientist with the Niskanen Center, told Josh.

Mike McKenna, a fossil fuel lobbyist and former legislative aide in the Trump administration, argues voters are less inclined to punish Republicans for ignoring climate change when the country is grappling with an economic downturn.

“It has almost certainly fallen even further down the priority list,” McKenna told Josh. “It is the Democrats who have not adjusted to the moment with respect to climate policy.”

Other Republicans say there’s a diversity of views among the party, and Trump won’t stop small-scale policy progress like investing in carbon capture technology and legislation focused on adaptation, agriculture, and planting trees.

“The president may not make climate change a central plank in his campaign, but that’s not the same thing as saying the party hasn’t done anything on the issue,” Dan Eberhart, a Trump campaign donor and CEO of the oil services firm Canary, told Josh.