Saturday, July 23, 2016

GOP Climate Activists See Party Developing 2020 Vision

RepublicEn, a conservative environmental group, gives away masks of former President Theodore Roosevelt, a conservation icon, to attract supporters. (Photo Credit: republicEn via Twitter) Click to Enlarge.
There's no unifying moniker for the host of conservative green groups that descended on the Republican National Convention here this week, but activists did agree on this:  Their ranks are growing, and they believe they can turn the tide on climate policy in the GOP before the 2020 election.

"We claim some of the territory the party seems to have lost," Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship President David Jenkins told Greenwire this week.

As the Republican Party dismissed climate policy in the 2016 platform it adopted this week -- opposing a carbon tax and calling for reduced funding for renewable energy -- representatives from numerous conservation and clean energy groups descended on the city and met during daily events to discuss climate on the sidelines.

Leaders say the numbers of green-minded Republicans have grown since the 2012 cycle, both with the addition of organizations like the GOP-aligned ClearPath Action Fund and through newer grass-roots efforts like republicEn and Young Conservatives for Energy Reform.  And they all portend a potential attitude shift in the party's platform before the next presidential race.

"All these things are coming together now, and four years from now, I hope we'll have a new generation of Republicans [working] on the platform and working with our candidates," said ConservAmerica President Rob Sisson.  "We'll be in a much better public place."

Sisson -- whose 501(c)(4) social welfare nonprofit educates congressional lawmakers and other public officials on energy and conservation policies -- said the growth boom is due in part to funders who are more willing to contribute to nonprofit organizations.

"Our group was founded 21 years ago, and we were the only group in that center-right niche," Sisson said.  "We have more and more groups that have identified some of these issues -- conservation and environmental protection -- as not only important for our nation's economy and nation's security but also for the future of the Republican Party."

Sisson suggested it's not so much a matter of convincing existing Republican voters about the need for climate policy or of the science of climate change.  Instead, the spotlight is on organizing existing supporters, particularly among groups like young voters, sportsmen, evangelicals and the military.

"Saying 'grow the grass roots' is the wrong thing, because the grass roots are out there.  We know the numbers of Republicans and conservatives care about these things; it's just that no one has ever invested money to organize them," Sisson said.

Read more at GOP Climate Activists See Party Developing 2020 Vision

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