House Republicans want world leaders to take them seriously on climate change

The lawmaker leading a delegation of House Republicans to a United Nations climate conference wants the world to know that the party is interested in more aggressively combating climate change under a GOP-run Congress.

Rep. John Curtis of Utah said in an interview with The Washington Times ahead of attending the Conference of the Parties, or COP27, summit in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, that “any perception problems” of Republicans not taking the issue seriously “are our own fault.”

“I think because of the events in Europe, there’s some increased urgency on our side of having our message heard,” said Mr. Curtis, chairman of the House’s Conservative Climate Caucus. “Anybody that’s wise will listen to us, because it’s projected we’ll have the House. We want a voice in this.”

He and a small group of House GOP colleagues will set out to promote to world leaders the sort of energy and environmental policies Republicans will prioritize under newfound power in Washington, if they retake either or both chambers in Tuesday’s elections.

That includes a six-pillar plan released earlier this year to boost domestic energy production of all forms with an emphasis on environmental conservation.  

“We feel confident that we don’t need to sacrifice our energy independence or affordable prices and we can still reduce emissions, and that’s why our voices are important,” Mr. Curtis said.

SEE ALSO: U.N. climate conference spurs ‘gloom and doom’ predictions

He’ll be accompanied by Reps. Greg Murphy of North Carolina, Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa, Tim Walberg of Michigan and Debbie Lesko of Arizona.

But the trip not only underscores the vast differences between Republicans and COP27’s ambitious agenda to curb greenhouse gas emissions, including by ending fossil fuels. It also highlights the divide within the GOP on how much — if at all — climate change should be addressed, putting those like Mr. Curtis in a narrow lane of their own.

While he said Democrats and green activists “shouting from the rooftops doom and gloom” turns Republicans away from the topic, “we’ve got to acknowledge this is a worldwide problem.” He told Politico last year around COP26 that “extremist” Republicans made the party seem like climate skeptics or deniers.

“It needs to be more about practicality and how to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. That’s what we’re hoping to, at least as much as a few voices can at COP, shout from the housetops,” Mr. Curtis said. “There’s a path that doesn’t kill our economy, that does make us energy independent and reduces emissions much quicker than the path we’re on.”

Environmentalists, who at times in recent years have been frustrated that President Biden has not further hampered the development and use of fossil fuels, aren’t buying what Mr. Curtis is selling.

“They’re not pro-energy independence, as they keep saying. They’re pro-fossil-fuel money dependence,” said Kat Maier, national coordinator of Fridays for Future, the youth-led international climate group formed by activist Greta Thunberg.

“If anything, the events in Europe should’ve had us running from fossil fuels and redirecting all of our money, time and resources into renewables,” she said.

COP27, which runs through Nov. 18, will focus on how countries can further reduce their emissions at a time when many nations are backsliding on reaching their climate objectives because of soaring energy costs and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

It will also feature a visit by Mr. Biden later this week and discussions on how wealthier nations can pay for the impact of climate change on poorer ones.

Ms. Maier suggested Republicans should take notice of recent natural disasters across the globe as evidence that reducing emissions should become a top priority.

“Even if they don’t give two flying f——s about people that are being displaced, killed, starved, drowned or burned in these ever-increasing disasters round the world, they’re getting worse in the U.S., too,” she said. “I’m sorry if that’s too doom and gloom for you; it’s reality.”

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