WASHINGTON ― On Wednesday, 17 House Republicans did something President Donald Trump and most members of their party have refused to do: acknowledge that climate change is real and commit to finding solutions to combat it.
And they did so on the day the Trump administration signaled it will scrap a major effort to deal with the problem’s primary cause, greenhouse gas emissions.
Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) and Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) introduced a resolution urging their colleagues to support the fight against climate change that describes protecting the environment as a “conservative principle” and calls for “prudent, fact-based stewardship of our economy and our environment.”
“Our goal with this resolution is to shift the debate from whether climate change is real toward the tangible efforts to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate its effects,” Curbelo said in a press release announcing the measure.
A group of House Republicans introduced a similar resolution in 2015. It’s not a bill, and it speaks only in very general terms about the issue ― so even if it were to pass, it wouldn’t really do much. But it is a notable departure from the actions and statements of other Republican lawmakers, who have refused to accept the overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is happening and is caused by human activity.
Trump has said he thinks climate change is a “hoax” and “a bunch of bunk.” He has also pledged to undo many of the environmental protections advanced under President Barack Obama, and has signed executive orders targeting some of them.
Trump has filled his administration with climate change deniers, like Scott Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who described himself as a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” The Trump administration’s proposed budget is expected to include massive cuts to the EPA.
Many of the co-sponsors of the GOP resolution represent areas that are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, like southern Florida, where rising sea levels regularly cause flooding.
“With 40 percent of Florida’s population at risk from sea-level rise, my state is on the front lines of climate change,” Curbelo said. “South Florida residents are already beginning to feel the effects of climate change in their daily lives ― from chronic flooding to coral bleaching to threats to our freshwater supply in the Everglades.”