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Most RNC delegates dismiss climate change -- except this guy


Most RNC delegates dismiss climate change -- except this guy

If you ask delegates at the Republican National Convention to rank policy issues in order of importance, climate change almost always falls at the bottom of the list.

"Climate change is a non-issue," Marc Scaringi, a Pennsylvania delegate, told Circa on Thursday.

Texas delegate James Dickey agreed.

"The climate does change," he said. "I think it's a huge amount of hubris to think that we both have as massive an impact on [the climate] as we think we do, or that we could or should take the draconian changes necessary to make even a nominal impact on it."

These sentiments echo the majority of the Republican Party.

On Monday -- the first day of the Republican National Convention -- the party released its official policy platform, which included language casting doubt on the scientific legitimacy of climate change.  It also called for effectively abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency, and declared coal a "clean" form of energy.

According to research from the progressive policy group Center for American Progress, 59 percent of House Republicans and 70 percent of Republicans in the Senate don't believe that climate change is real or a problem.

But there is at least one Republican delegate at this year's RNC who sings a different tune.

Jim Brainard is the mayor of Carmel, Indiana and a rare Republican who not only accepts the science of climate change, but wants to do something about it. He told Circa he decided to come to the RNC to be a conservative voice for climate action.

"I thought quite honestly of not coming," Brainard said. "But I thought it was important to be here, to talk to fellow delegates about why the Republican party is missing an opportunity."

The party platform's stance on environmental issues was one of the main reasons Brainard considered skipping the RNC this year.

But a brief meeting with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump -- who has said he thinks climate change is a hoax -- helped change Brainard's mind.

"He seemed very open to talking about things with Republicans who disagree with him," Brainard said.

Trump's view made Brainard want to open up a dialogue with conservatives on climate change.
He also wanted to remind them that environmentalism is part of their political history.

"It was Teddy Roosevelt who set aside millions of acres of our national parkland," he said. "It was Dwight Eisenhoswer, a Republican, who set aside the Arctic Reserve. It was Richard Nixon, a Republican, who signed the bill authorizing the Environmental Protection Agency."

Brainard has long been a Republican advocate for climate action. In 2013, he was tapped to serve on President Obama's Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. In 2015, he traveled to┬áIndia and Germany to talk about how to build environmentally sustainable cities. 

Despite the overwhelming number of Republicans who disagree with him, Brainard said he's optimistic that Republicans will eventually change their tune.

"I believe most people are going to make the right decision. I really believe that people will come to the right conclusion if there's real leadership and we make sure the right information is out there."

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