Rep. John Curtis on Sunday declared that “Republicans do care” about the climate crisis, and the notion that they don’t is simply a “branding problem.”
“It’s fair to say we’re turned off by the extremist rhetoric, and we don’t always agree on the way to get there. But I can promise you, Republicans do care deeply,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Curtis (R-Utah), along with a delegation of Republicans, will attend the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, which began Sunday. As the founder of the recently created Conservative Climate Caucus, he wants Republicans to have a seat at the table in the climate talks and show that they “want to do what’s best” for the planet.
Curtis also wants to chart a Republican path to a green future — one that doesn’t include the “Green New Deal” or “demonize fossil fuels.” The GOP has long been saddled with a reputation for being indifferent to environmental issues, fed by the presence of notable deniers of the idea of climate change within the party.
“If we follow the Republican path, we don’t need to kill U.S. jobs, we don’t need to export our jobs overseas and subject ourselves to our enemies,” Curtis told host Margaret Brennan. “We have ideas that improve the U.S. economy, that rely on U.S. technology and U.S. innovation, such as new nuclear.”
The Utah Republican is a proponent of nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels. On concerns about constituents not wanting nuclear plants in their backyards, Curtis said, “U.S. innovation and technology can lead us past the concerns that we have with nuclear, whether it be safety or whatever those concerns are.”
“We don’t have to accept old-generation nuclear,” he said.
But Curtis’ ambitions — investments that could take years to come to fruition — face a major hurdle: meeting the urgency of the climate crisis. Curtis said, however, he has “full confidence” in the free marketplace to move quickly enough to address the issue even without the help of tax credits or government subsidies.
“That’s not to say that as a government, we don’t have a role that we shouldn’t be looking for those areas to incentivize and help and poke and prod along the way,” Curtis said. “But we need all hands on deck, you know, and we need to talk about this in a bipartisan way and not just the extreme ideas, which, by the way, have let us in a terrible direction.”