By Oliver Milman
Conservative and free-market groups have staged a rearguard effort to get the Republican party to accept the dangers of climate change, criticizing climate denialism within the GOP and Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
Climate change, and other environmental concerns, are unlikely to receive much, if any, attention during the Republican convention in Cleveland this week. This is despite a slew of temperature records being broken – June was the 14th consecutive month of record heat around the world – and extreme examples ofArctic ice decline and drought and wildfires in the US west.
But the Republican gathering has been targeted by conservative voices calling for climate science to be accepted and for national parks to be preserved, rather than opened up for drilling and other development.
A group called the Partnership for Responsible Growth has launched a TV advertisement campaign aimed squarely at conservatives, reminding them of previous Republican acceptance of climate science. The ad, which will run on Fox News throughout the GOP convention in Cleveland this week, shows clips of presidents George W Bush and George HW Bush, as well as former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, outlining the dangers of climate change.
A different version of the ad, which compares these words with denial of climate science by pundits on Fox News, was rejected for broadcast by the Murdoch-owned TV network.
Partnership for Responsible Growth has also taken aim at the Wall Street Journal, another Murdoch organ, with a dozen full-page advertisements throughout June and July, decrying the newspapers skeptical stance on climate change.
“Historically, when faced with a national security threat like climate change, Americans have set aside ideology, faced facts and taken action,” one of the ads states. “It is time for the editorial board of the WSJ to become part of the solution on climate change.”
The Partnership for Responsible Growth calls itself a free-market group that supports putting a price on carbon. Its advisory council includes Ted Roosevelt IV, managing director of investment banking at Barclays Capital, former oil executive William Nitze and retired rear admiral David Titley.
The official Republican platform explicitly rejects the idea of a “carbon tax” and commits the party to withdrawing the US from the Paris climate accord, which was signed by 195 nations in December. The platform also opposes the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions and rejects the idea that species including gray wolves and sage grouse should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Nan Hayworth, a former Republican congresswoman and head of the GOP-aligned ConservAmerica group, said many Republicans still don’t accept mainstream climate science.
“The default position should really be that even if you are skeptical about the climate change, let’s minimize our carbon footprint and our pollution anyway,” she said.
“Donald Trump has a particularly vivid way of making a point, he’s theatrical. I think he says things that will resonate with his audience but when there’s time to make an executive decision, he’ll take wise counsel.
“I would like to hear Donald Trump say: ‘Let’s resolve to be great stewards of our planet, let’s take science seriously, let’s reduce consumptions and emissions.’”
Hayworth said she will continue to battle against the “headwinds” within the party, but insisted that many Republicans care about the environment, only to be stymied by a polarized political system.
“My former colleagues understand the importance of protecting the environment, but one of the problems is the political opposition from environmental groups and the left is so extreme in some cases, even when they try to move towards environmental points of view they get no credit for it politically,” she said. “You can’t be too far behind or ahead of your district.”
Environmental groups have also hit out at presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has called climate change “bullshit” and a “hoax” invented by the Chinese to weaken America, and Fox News.
Friends of the Earth have created an ad that shows a female mock Fox News presenter slowly being submerged by rising sea levels, with the slogan “What will it take for Fox News to admit that humans are changing the climate?” Fox News, which has an underwhelming record when it comes to presenting accurate climate science, refused to run the ad on air.
Theclimatesolution.com, another campaign to impose a price on carbon, has created a series of “climate inaction figures”, which it says are “toy-inspired likenesses of prominent public figures who claim, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that there is no reason to act”.
Toy figures that people can get their hands on include Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, the Koch brothers and Trump.