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The Republican party disregards the climate crisis as Trump promises to prioritize oil drilling.
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The Republican party disregards the climate crisis as Trump promises to prioritize oil drilling.


After an Iowa primary election was affected by a historic cold front, experts suggest that global warming may have played a role, Republican presidential candidates are showing even stronger support for the fossil fuel industry and neglecting to address the increasing impact of the climate crisis on Americans.

The remaining contenders for the US presidential nomination – frontrunner Donald Trump, along with Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis – all used the Iowa caucus to promise surging levels of oil and gas drilling if elected, along with the wholesale abolition of Joe Biden’s climate change policies.

During a Fox News town hall before the primary, Trump, who easily won the Iowa poll, declared that if elected, he would prioritize drilling for energy resources. He confidently stated that the United States has a wealth of energy, oil, and gas reserves, and could potentially generate significant income from them. Despite facing multiple indictments, the former president remained steadfast in his belief in America’s energy potential.

Trump criticized clean energy as a “fraudulent industry” and veered off on a tangent about its role in the production of donuts and hamburgers. The Trump campaign has accused Biden of attempting to prohibit the purchase of non-electric cars by Americans – a claim that has no basis – and blamed him for dirty dishes due to new efficiency regulations for dishwashers.

Haley, on the other hand, has referred to the Inflation Reduction Act, which is President Biden’s primary climate legislation that offers tax incentives for renewable energy generation and electric vehicle purchases, as a “communist manifesto.” She also used the Iowa election as an opportunity to declare her intention to “reverse all of Biden’s green subsidies because they are misguided.” DeSantis, who came in second place in Iowa, stated that on his first day as president, he would “reject Biden’s Green New Deal, rip it up, and discard it in the garbage. It is detrimental to our nation.”

A man speaks in front of a backdrop that reads “historic climate action”

Scientists have issued a warning about the world’s rising temperatures and the resulting consequences, as last year was declared the hottest on record globally. In the US, there were a record number of disasters causing at least $1 billion in damages, with the climate crisis leading to more intense wildfires, storms, and extreme heat.

The concerns were not openly expressed in cold Iowa, except for by young activists concerned about climate change. These activists caused disruptions at rallies led by Trump, Haley, and DeSantis. During a Trump speech on Sunday, a 17-year-old member of the Sunrise climate group interrupted to ask, “Mr. Trump, does your campaign receive funding from fossil fuel millionaires? Are you representing them or ordinary individuals like myself?”

The audience of Trump supporters drowned out her voice with boos, and the former president scolded her from the stage, telling her to return to her mother. He also commented that the protester was inexperienced and immature.

Aru Shiney-Ajay, executive director of Sunrise, stated that the Republican candidates’ refusal to address climate change concerns and their promotion of fossil fuels reveals their determination to prioritize profits over a stable future.

People remove a climate protester

Shiney-Ajay stated that no Republicans are tackling the underlying issues of the climate emergency. They have been influenced by wealthy individuals in the oil and gas industry. The youth climate activists are also disappointed with Biden, who has allowed a significant increase in oil and gas extraction, despite Republican accusations that he is limiting US energy production.

According to her, every contender for the presidency, including Joe Biden, is not meeting the necessary level of ambition to address the climate crisis, despite there being millions of lives at risk.

Several members of the Republican party have cautioned that addressing climate change is crucial for their political success, as more and more Americans are expressing concern about the effects of global warming. GOP congressman Buddy Carter from Georgia stated that avoiding discussions about the climate will ultimately exclude conservatives from participating in important decision-making processes. He believes that their policies align with addressing climate change and therefore, they deserve a spot at the table.

However, surveys have indicated that Republican voters do not consider the climate crisis to be a significant concern, in comparison to other issues like the economy and inflation. Only 13% of them viewed it as a top priority in a Pew survey conducted last year. The party’s top presidential candidates have not actively attempted to shift this perspective, much to the disappointment of environmentally-aware conservatives.

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During the primary season, Danielle Butcher Franz, CEO of the advocacy arm of the American Conservation Coalition, a conservative climate group, advises Republican candidates to keep the larger goal in mind.

The future Republican nominee must go beyond the initial election and appeal to the younger generation by addressing their top concern: climate change.

Butcher Franz believes that Republicans need to use more effective language and offer concrete policy solutions. According to him, the upcoming 2024 election is a chance for candidates to do just that, but so far, no one has fully taken advantage of it.

Although the candidates have not placed a lot of emphasis on climate change, its impacts are being directly experienced as the Republican primary progresses to New Hampshire. Frigid temperatures have taken hold of a large portion of the US – the Iowa caucus was the coldest ever recorded – due to a surge of Arctic-like weather that has resulted in power outages, disrupted air travel, and forced school closures in certain areas of the nation.

Campaign signs in a snow bank

The Arctic region is experiencing a warming trend that is four times faster than the global average. Experts believe this is impacting the jet stream, a powerful wind flow that directs weather patterns in the northern hemisphere, as well as the polar vortex, another wind current that typically keeps freezing air confined to the polar area. Recent studies have shown that these systems are becoming more “wavy”, which can result in Arctic-like weather reaching much farther south than usual.

Judah Cohen, a meteorologist at Verisk Atmospheric and Environmental, stated that the recent cold spell is highly probable due to the significant increase in global warming. According to his research, there is scientific evidence supporting the idea that severe winter weather can be attributed to a warming planet. This does not contradict the evidence of global warming.

According to Jennifer Francis, a climate scientist at Woods Hole Research Center, the scientific evidence is indicating that extreme cold spells will result from global warming, although this may seem contradictory.

Iowa’s current conditions during a Republican presidential primary are quite ironic, stated Francis. However, those who deny climate change will not perceive it as such and will refuse to acknowledge any scientific evidence that contradicts their beliefs.

Source: theguardian.com