As published in Time on February 15, 2019.
By Justin Worland
By shifting the conversation to the left, the Green New Deal has given conservative lawmakers an opening to present centrist policy proposals without looking like they are giving Democrats a political win. At the same time, progressive rhetoric surrounding the issue has contributed to a sense of urgency in the public dialogue, encouraging influential corporate lobbyists, who support moderate solutions to address climate change but want to avoid policies that include heavy regulations, to act proactively. Ultimately, Congressional Republicans’ reaction to the Green New Deal may offer a glimmer of hope that a legislative climate solution will pass a divided Congress in coming years.
“The Green New Deal gives Republicans and conservatives space so that they can maneuver and pivot, so that they can point to a solution that they can support,” says former Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Republican who has led efforts for a carbon tax.
That maneuvering may be necessary for the political survival of at least some Republicans. Nearly 3 in 4 Americans, including a majority of Republicans, now agree that climate change is happening, according to a December poll from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. “This is an opportunity to articulate a vision,” says Heather Reams, executive director of Citizens For Responsible Energy Solutions.