US president Donald Trump may be determined to de-fund climate science, scrap emissions curbs and bring back coal, but there is dissent in his party ranks.
In a resolution filed on Wednesday, 17 Republican lawmakers registered concern about the risks associated with climate change and called for “economically viable” policies to address it.
Led by New York representative Elise Stefanik, Florida’s Carlos Curbelo and Pennsylvania’s Ryan Costello, the green conservatives warned: “If left unaddressed, the consequences of a changing climate have the potential to adversely impact all Americans.”
They expressed support for measures to address the causes and effects of global warming, “using our tradition of American ingenuity, innovation, and exceptionalism”.
It came as a Gallup poll showed 45% of Americans worry “a great deal” about global warming, the highest level in three decades. Belief the phenomenon is primarily caused by human activity – reflecting the scientific consensus – also reached a record high of 68%.
Gallup suggested a series of warm weather records, coupled with anxiety about Trump’s dismissive stance, could be behind the heightened climate concern.
The World Resources Institute praised the Republican signatories for bucking the party line.
“Climate change should not be a partisan issue – it is a scientific fact as undeniable as gravity, and an urgent threat to the United States’ economic well-being,” said the NGO’s US director Sam Adams.
“In these tumultuous times, it is encouraging that Republican members of Congress put forward this resolution to take measures to combat climate change that also grow the country’s economy.”
With only 17 supporters, the resolution is not expected to pass, but it signals unease with the president’s aggressive plans to roll back environmental protections.
In another sign of friction, last week congressman Carlos Curbelo said the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt had been “reckless” when he questioned the role of carbon dioxide in causing global warming.
— Rep. Carlos Curbelo (@RepCurbelo) March 9, 2017
Trump is reportedly poised to sign an order that will dismantle predecessor Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the cornerstone of US climate policy, and lift a moratorium on coal mining on federal land.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s budget is to be slashed by a third, under a preliminary proposal, limiting its capacity to defend climate rules.
It remains unclear whether Trump will “cancel” US membership of the Paris climate deal, as previously threatened. His secretary of state, former Exxon chief Rex Tillerson, has advised the US should “maintain its seat at the table”.