Meet the #EcoRight! In this series, we profile republicEn members across the country: conservatives, libertarians, and independent thinkers who recognize the seriousness of climate change and support pragmatic solutions.
Jacob Abel is a senior studying International Relations at Seton Hall University. Although he originally hails from Huntington Beach, California, he has lived in Concord, North Carolina for 12 years. He is a spokesperson for republicEn and a member of the Conservative Caucus in Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
How well do you feel your conservative values mesh with climate action?
Conservation goes hand-in-hand with conservatism. In my experience, most people genuinely want to take care of the environment and want to use our resources in moderation and responsibly. Conservatives by their nature don’t want to be wasteful and this lends well to taking action on climate.
When and why did you first start caring about climate change?
I first started seriously caring about climate after I heard Alex Bozmoski of republicEn speak at my school about a conservative approach to solving climate change. I had never heard this view before and was only familiar with the mainstream approach pushed by the Environmental Left that usually involved growing the government. Hearing the conservative approach inspired me to take more action on climate change.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced with being a member of the EcoRight?
I think the biggest challenge I faced was putting myself and my opinion out there for the first time. I had previously never really been that involved with politics or advocacy, so this was difficult at first. Also, getting involved in such a polarized time and in a time when the Republican Party has really gone through a shift in ideology has also made it challenging.
What would you say to Republicans who still deny climate change is a problem?
I talk about the benefits of a carbon tax in relation to the negative externalities that exist with the use of fossil fuels, such as the cost of pollution and higher medical expenses. I bring up the market trends that are already pushing various industries toward cleaner energy such as Ford investing $500 million in electric vehicle research. I think examples like this show a perspective that not many people often think about. It also puts a real dollar value on the cost of continuing to maintain the status quo.
“Conservatives by their nature don’t want to be wasteful and this lends well to taking action on climate.”
What could the GOP do to make climate action more appealing to the public? What needs to change within the party?
I think the answer to both questions is to accept the problem. From there we can then move into a debate about policy, which I know we can own as a party. Unfortunately, the issue of climate change has been made so toxic both by the rhetoric of those on the left and by our own party that it makes having a conversation about climate change very difficult.
Are you confident in America’s ability to address climate change using market solutions?
I am very confident that market solutions can solve climate change. Companies are already investing resources in technologies that will help reduce emissions and fight climate change. Releasing the innovation of the American economy on this issue will make it much easier to solve. There is not one single thing we can do that will stop climate change, so the diversity of the American economy and the American people will be beneficial. Addressing climate change will require reducing emissions through technologies such as carbon capture and electric vehicles. This will require private industry to adjust its strategy, which it is already doing.
What about this movement makes you feel optimistic for the future?
More and more people are getting involved. Polling shows that climate change is a very important issue for many young conservatives, and the more people talking about this issue the better. I always like to say that if we aren’t at the table talking about solutions, then we can’t be mad if we feel the solutions being proposed are too radical. Along that point, we are also starting to hear a more enriched debate around the solutions, not so much debate over the science. This is especially true among young people, regardless of political background.
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