Recent years have seen a flurry of incidents of “deplatforming,” where controversial speakers are disinvited or individuals are excluded from events because of their “unsafe” views. Many of these cases have involved college campuses, but though the trend may have started there, it has quickly spread beyond the quarantine of university humanities departments to infect the wider culture.
Two recent events involving climate change arguably fit into this pattern. The first involves former Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo. When he was in the House, Curbelo was a strong advocate of action on climate change, co-chairing the Climate Solutions Caucus and introducing legislation that would institute a carbon price to reduce emissions and encourage the development of clean energy sources. Curbelo was slated to testify on the need for climate action at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing this week. He was disinvited, however, after the Democratic leadership objected to his invitation on the grounds that he was a Republican.
In a similar vein, this week the Sunrise Coalition (which advocates urgent climate action) denied press credentials for a D.C. rally to Washington Examiner reporter Josh Siegel because they didn’t like the paper’s politics. Siegel’s reporting on climate issues is widely regarded as fair, but that apparently didn’t matter.
Partisanship is an inherent feature of politics, and it’s probably unrealistic to expect such matters to be set aside even for something as important as the climate. But there is a bitter irony here. The left has long complained about the unwillingness of conservatives to take climate change seriously. Yet when individual conservatives do so, they are treated with disdain. A cynic might conclude that at least some on the left prefer conservatives who denounce climate change as a hoax to those who want to develop constructive responses, as it is easier to make political hay out of your opponents being “climate deniers.” But if environmentalists really want to address the climate issue in a way that is politically sustainable over the long term, they are going to need Republican support.