The crises the U.S. is facing regarding global warming and representative democracy are similar in some ways. Both have been serious problems for several decades, but have taken on new urgency in the past five years. In both, the Republican Party is a key barrier to progress or the instigator of regress.
Both now place the U.S. increasingly at odds with our allies in Canada and Western Europe. Beyond those similarities, the two crises also are linked: To address climate change effectively requires addressing the democracy crisis.
Over the past 50 years, Democratic and Republican administrations have not heeded findings of climate science and have failed to respond with adequate climate policies. But currently, the Democratic Party shows substantial interest in a rapid energy transition and other ambitious greenhouse gas mitigation policies, while the Republican Party does not. Recently, even the reinstatement of Obama-era methane regulations, which was supported by the major oil companies, attracted only scant Republican support on Capitol Hill.
And much stronger policies are needed to meet the United States’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Climate Agreement, which requires a 50% cut in emissions over the 2005-30 period. Republicans consistently and forcefully oppose ambitious policies or any form of carbon pricing, and Republican-nominated federal judges are hostile to the Environmental Protection Agency’s use of its administrative authority to regulate emissions. As the Republican Party has moved to the right on climate policy, climate change has become a defining issue separating the parties and their base voters. [Continue reading…]