House Conservative Climate Caucus: Should we be optimistic or skeptical?

By Susan Campbell, Colorado Springs Group Leader and Liaison for Rep. Lamborn

In late June, Republican John Curtis of Utah announced the formation of a House Conservative Climate Caucus, including nearly one third (65) of Republican House members. The Caucus quickly launched a website that declares the “climate is changing” and that decades of global industry have contributed to this change.

The caucus website says that the caucus will “educate House Republicans on climate policies and legislation consistent with conservative values.” While stating that “reducing emissions” is the goal, the caucus’s website says that this should not involve reducing energy choices. Rather, it asserts that, with “innovative technologies,“ fossil fuels can be a major part of the solution.

For climate realists, it’s hard to know what to make of the new caucus. Does this reflect a major shift in the Republican party? Will the caucus members make meaningful efforts to enact climate change legislation? Or, is this merely a publicity stunt for Republicans in districts increasingly hard hit by climate change?

Rep. Curtis, who takes part in an annual hike (in 2021, 10 miles) with Citizens’ Climate Lobby members from Utah, acknowledges that some may feel skeptical. He has answered tough questions in interviews with NPR, CNN, and Politico. Disappointing to some, when Rep. Curtis was asked to predict what the caucus will do about U.S. carbon emissions, he focused instead on China’s emissions, how the Chinese are coercing the Uyghurs to work in the supply chain for solar panels, and plastics in the ocean. In his interview with Politico, published July 7, he asked for time for the caucus to change the climate conversation, and possibly to contribute messaging that will more effectively move conservatives to act on climate. Also, while saying he is not yet on board with carbon pricing, Curtis predicted the caucus may advocate for next generation nuclear, direct air capture and carbon sequestration.

In Colorado, Rep. Lamborn from Colorado Springs has joined the caucus, while Rep. Boebert and Rep. Buck have not.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby has taken a cautious approach on the new caucus, urging constituents to thank Republican members of Congress who have joined, but saying that we should hold off asking other members of Congress to join, until we have a better sense of where the caucus is headed.

A possible approach for supporting formation of the new caucus is to express thanks, but to keep the focus on U.S. climate action.

Take Action:

If you are a constituent of Rep. Lamborn, thank him for joining the new caucus. Then ask him and the new caucus to enact legislation that will rapidly reduce U.S. carbon emissions, such as H.R. 2307, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.