More Protesting and Government Spending Won’t Combat Climate Change


Monday, July 19, 2021

Progressives, especially young progressives, love to say they are combating climate change. But is that really true? Shortly after being elected to Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez participated in a sit-in protest with the Sunrise Movement in Speaker Pelosi’s office. Ocasio-Cortez said about the protest: “This is not about personality, this is not about rebuke, it’s not about confrontation. It’s about making sure we are getting the job done.” But what job is getting done? After a few years and a Democratic President in office, you’d think that there would be more success from the left in addressing climate change. Instead, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez found herself participating in another Sunrise Movement protest last month. The group was unhappy with the 1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package negotiated between President Biden and 11 Senate Republicans. Their main concern was that there wasn’t enough money going to combat climate change, despite the bill providing funding for more electric charging stations, public transit, and $47 billion for climate resiliency.

At this same protest, multiple Sunrise Movement members were arrested. Rep. Bowman, another progressive lawmaker, said this to the protesters when referring to the bipartisan bill: “F–k that. We’ve got to go big, and take it to another level … This is our moment. This is the moment.” Others yelled that Biden was a coward for working with Republicans. It begs the question, what has years of protesting done for climate change? Very little. The group of protesters, along with AOC, want a Climate Citizens Corps added to the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which is similar to a policy President Roosevelt implemented in the 1930s. President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have also considered putting this in the Democratic-only infrastructure bill that will follow the bipartisan one. Biden had floated spending $10 billion on the Climate Citizens Corps, when unsurprisingly AOC said there needed to be $130 billion to fund the program, claiming it will create millions of jobs. Many left-wing think tanks are reporting that the Climate Citizens Corps is popular among Republicans and Democrats. Whether it’s popular or not, the hard truth is more government spending and more protesting won’t stop climate change. 

Most recently, the Sunrise Movement along with other progressive environmental groups, wrote to President Biden, telling him it’s time “to eschew the dominant agonistic approach to U.S.-China relations and instead prioritize multilateralism, diplomacy, and cooperation with China to address the existential threat that is the climate crisis.” I have a news flash for the Sunrise Movement: More diplomacy with China is a naive idea and will do nothing to get them to act on climate change. 

Let me give you another side of the climate change movement. Young conservatives such as Benji Backer and the American Conservation Coalition (ACC) are helping push the GOP to be more engaged on the issue of climate change. Rep. John Curtis of Utah recently created the Conservative Climate Caucus with 60+ Republicans on board. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also started a GOP Climate Task Force. Just a few years ago, many House Republicans thought climate change wasn’t real. Now they are accepting it to be a reality. This is enormous progress.

I’m not claiming that young conservatives are doing more than young progressives, but their strategy has been effective compared to protesting. The reality is that Democrats will never be able to pass a climate bill without GOP support. Progressives should be ecstatic with groups like the ACC and Citizens’ Climate Lobby that are engaging Republicans on the issue. If it weren’t for young conservatives like Benji Backer and me who are pushing GOP lawmakers on the issue, there would be little hope for any kind of passage of a climate bill. Thankfully, we’ve seen recent progress, with the Senate’s passage of the bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act which aims to help farmers lower greenhouse gas emissions. Ironically, uncompromising idealistic progressives like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders didn’t vote in favor of the bill, while most Republicans did. 

Unfortunately, just like with immigration and social security, political parties don’t want to fix an issue, they want to own an issue. Progressives need to stop protesting and start meeting with Republicans. More Republicans need to accept the reality of climate change and start listening to Democrats. The only way to truly solve climate change and stop the serious effects it will have on our planet is to compromise. It’s not sexy, but it’s the only path forward. 

Hunter A. Thomas is an upcoming law student and was President of BYU College Republicans from 2019 to 2020.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Hunter Thomas

Hunter A. Thomas is an upcoming law student and was President of BYU College Republicans from 2019 to 2020.

hunterthom_ on Instagram @hunterthom_

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