June 25, 2015
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Republicans can win on environmental issues and solutions to America’s energy and infrastructure problems, and they don’t have to disown a belief in climate change to become their party’s candidate, former presidential candidate and speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said Thursday.
“The environment translates as public health, it translates as quality, it translates as a moral theme,” Gingrich said at the second panel of POLITICO’s “Solving for Y: Exploring Opportunities for the Next Generation” event, co-moderated by POLITICO events director Luiza Ch. Savage and POLITICO Magazine editor Garrett Graff.
Gingrich, however, said it should not be a given for politicians to assume that climate change is man-made.
“I don’t think it should be a given. The truth is, I think we don’t know. There’s a difference between political science and science,” he said.
Gingrich, a converted Catholic, said Pope Francis’ recent environmental encyclical will have an impact on the 2016 election, but it depends on how it is interpreted.
“Clearly, the pope has come down on the side of saying, ‘We have to be concerned about the environment.’ I agree 100 percent,” Gingrich said, adding, “Anyone who underestimates the impact of humans on the planet is just kidding themselves.”
Gingrich said millennials are more skeptical about government solutions because they “have grown up in an era when they’ve watched government fail,” and therefore dire environmental predictions from people like Al Gore ring hollow.
“I think you’ll see in the next decade will be an explosion of volunteerism,” Gingrich predicted.
Asked about the age gap between millennials and some of the presidential candidates, Gingrich said young voters would not be persuaded one way or the other because of a candidate’s age.
“I don’t think there’s an automatic age identity,” he added.
To reach millennials, Gingrich said, politicians have to speak their language, noting that President Barack Obama “to his credit, got the rhythm of that” during his 2008 campaign.
Steven Olikara, the president and founder of the Millennial Action Project, said that conservatives and libertarians are coming together on energy and transportation issues to advocate a bottom-up, rather than a top-down approach.
“The overriding point here is that the partisan warfare is a huge turnoff for this generation,” Olikara said. “Political candidates ought to listen what we have to say.”
In the event’s first panel, millennial public officials and entrepreneurs convened in Washington on Thursday to discuss the importance of sustainability and public-private partnerships, where panelists discussed how the newest, largest generation is changing cities.
Millennials are less likely to own cars and more likely to identify with the sustainability movement, panelists told POLITICO energy reporter Elana Schor, who moderated the first discussion.
For us, said Ithaca, New York, Mayor Svante Myrick, “this is baseline stuff,” when asked why the younger generation (himself included) does not identify as “environmentalists.”
When you ask a millennial about environmentalists, Myrick joked, they’re likely to think of an older person wearing “tie-dye shirts and Birkenstock shoes,” adding that he could say that because his town is the capital of tie-dye shirts and Birkenstocks.
Those born between roughly 1980 and 2000 are “very pragmatic and practical,” said Gabe Klein, the former commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Transportation and a senior vice president at venture-capital firm Fontinalis Partners. “There needs to be more people in government concerned with a better return on investment and more in the private sector focused on the “greater good,” he added.
Chris Clark, a councilmember and former mayor of Mountain View, California, stressed the importance of public-private partnerships in providing services and filling in gaps where government once served the public.
“We were forced to innovate, and we were forced to work with the Googles and the LinkedIns,” he said. “So what we’ve tried to do is partner with them and say we’re willing to step up to the plate as a city … but we need the capital to help fund some of those things.”
Newt Gingrich: GOP Can Win on Environmental Issues
- on June 25, 2015