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Younger generations could be the key to reaching older Republicans on climate change

Conservative approach to climate change, Utah Tech University, Sept. 12, 2022
Elle Cabrera
Local climate change activists and experts discuss conservative climate change approaches at Utah Tech University. Panelists included former South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis, Utah Clean Energy climate scientist and analyst Dr. Logan Mitchell, St. George City councilwoman Danielle Larkin, and Ivins City mayor Chris Hart, Sept. 12, 2022.

Some conservatives say young adults are the key to reaching older Republicans on climate change.

Utah Tech University hosted a panel on approaches to climate change Monday, featuring local conservative climate activists and leaders. RepubilcEn, a conservative climate change advocacy organization, led the conversation.

Former Republican congressman Bob Inglis of South Carolina is the group’s executive director. He said grandkids, children and any other young voter should be talking to older generations about the importance of addressing climate change.

“We just, we especially need for those students, as I said, here, to be ambassadors to their parents and grandparents, because there's a bond of love between that student and their parents and grandparents, they can be the most effective ambassadors, just like my kids got to me,” said Inglis. “I just hope that students who heard this tonight say that they can get to grandpa because and here's why that's so important, is politicians know that grandpa and grandma are high propensity voters.”

A 2021 Pew Research Center study found that 71 percent of Americans favor moving away from fossil fuels. While the study found Republicans were generally less concerned about climate change, Millennial and Gen-Z Republicans were three times more likely than their Baby Boomer counterparts to be in favor of moving away from fossil fuels and toward renewables.

However, Utah Clean Energy climate scientist and analyst Dr. Logan Mitchell said starting the conversation is not enough to make a change. He listed a few key ways for individuals can get involved besides just talking about the issue:

  • Remove shame from the discussion
  • Join a climate change-oriented group in the community
  • Embrace things like volunteering
  • Talk with elected officials about climate change 

For RebublicEn, one of its larger goals is to get the word out that some conservatives do want to tackle climate change. Inglis hailed Sen. Mitt Romney for his part in bringing attention to climate change concerns like clean energy, air and water. Inglis gave a preview of what RebublicEn is working toward and hoping will make it to the Senate.

The group’s approach doesn’t focus on regulation or incentives, which they claim are ineffective. Instead, Inglis said his group wants to establish a price on emissions with a carbon tax. Keeping to their conservative principles against raising taxes overall, the carbon tax could be a “dollar for dollar” offset for already existing taxes or the proceeds could go back to U.S. citizens.

“You can tend to regulate pollution, regulate sewage pollution. The problem with that is you can't regulate Chinese pollution,” Inglis said.

RepublicEn is working to get the idea of conservative climate change out in places like Utah and Indiana where there is a heavy conservative population that could have the power to elect more climate-friendly Republicans.

“Once conservative members of Congress start seeing that there is a constituency out there, they'll feel more comfortable leading,” said Inglis.

Elle Cabrera is a Flagstaff, Arizona, native who moved to Southern Utah in 2017. She graduated from Utah Tech University in 2020, and began her journey into the news world with internships at the Sun News Daily in broadcast and writing. After graduation she worked as the breaking news reporter at The Spectrum & Daily News before coming to KUER. When not looking for the newest lead she can be found reading fantasy and watching anime.
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