We Talked to Congressional Republicans at UN Climate Talks About Their ‘Rational Approach’

GLASGOW (SCOTLAND) The Republican climate delegation has arrived at the Glasgow climate talks. As 100,000 protestors marched to demand radical and transformational change in their lives, Rep. Dan Crenshaw from Texas, Rep. Garret Grasses of Louisiana and Rep. John Curtis were welcomed into the convention center, where negotiators are working out a climate agreement.

Although their pitch is certainly radical, it is not transformative. The group proposes that instead of decarbonizing through building out renewable capacity as fast as possible, they will export more American natural gas and invest in expensive nuclear power and unproven carbon-capture technology to address the climate crisis.

As they were walking through the pavilions, Earther ran into the group. They were promoting their climate credentials and hosting talks by experts. Crenshaw stopped at one point to take a photograph of an art installation that featured polar bears in life vests at the pavilion of Tuvalu, an island nation at risk of becoming extinct due to sea-level rise. After taking the photo, Crenshaw met with the Danish pavilion. After the meeting, we were able to meet up with him.

He said that a Republican delegation was present to provide a more rational perspective on all this. He said that the group promoted nuclear energy, which included advanced modular reactors, carbon-capture, and Texas natural gaz. This discussion is more rational about promoting nuclear energy, encouraging carbon capture, and promoting natural gas exports to the U.S. which would replace coal around the globe and have a much greater impact on reducing greenhouse gases than any of the other goals being discussed here. ... These solutions work, which is why Republicans support them.

These positions are rational, but they don't work well. Let's begin with nuclear power. This vital source of clean, non-carbon-intensive energy is in grave danger. Many U.S. plants are at or near retirement age. Indian Point in New York was closed this year. In Illinois, however, the state government provided a rescue package to its aging nuclear fleet. This underscores the stark differences between the two options.

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However, it has been extremely difficult to build new nuclear plants. The Vogtle Nuclear Plant is the only currently under construction in the U.S. It is already years behind schedule and costs twice as much as its initial cost. While nuclear investments are one way to reduce carbon, the Vogtle Nuclear Plant is proving difficult. It's also not likely that enough nuclear capacity will be available in the timeframe required.

Carbon capture and storage (or CCS) has been a pipedream that has so far failed. This includes the closing of the Petra Nova facility at Crenshaws Texas earlier in the year. It was too expensive and ineffective. (The carbon it captured was also used for extracting more oil, which isn't exactly a win-win situation for the environment. Crenshaw stated that this was a pilot project. This speaks volumes about CCS's current state. It is not an ineligible technology, but it could be a valuable investment. It is not a panacea or the key to the decarbonization of the energy system.


There's also the natural gas thing. Yes, gas is better than coal. It still emits methane. Even the cleaner Texas gas is a climate problem, as fugitive methane emitted 80 times more than carbon dioxide.

A major report from the International Energy Agency, which was founded in the wake of the 1970s oil crisis and isnt exactly a granola-and-hemp-loving group, released earlier this year found that new oil and gas exploration must stop next year. Crenshaw claimed he had not seen the report but it is impossible.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report on reaching 1.5-degree Celsius (2.7-degree Fahrenheit) goal has found that oil and gas consumption must drop 37% and 25% by 2030, respectively. Crenshaw stated that the Texas blackouts demonstrated the need for natural gas and the danger of relying solely on renewables. (Peer-reviewed science found that the Texas blackouts demonstrated the danger of not weatherizing natural gasoline infrastructure.

He said that strawman arguments such as, "Oh, the Republicans are saying that the wind turbines stopped working." Perhaps some people did say that. That was not what I said. That meme was on the internet.


There was indeed a debunked meme. Although Crenshaw didn't share the meme, he did tweet about Texas grid failure, starting with Frozen Wind Turbines. This is not what energy policy experts have determined to be the main cause.

The Republican vision of rationality in the UN talks is therefore essentially continuing to rely upon fossil fuels with some CCS or nuclear bells, which, while important investments, are not sufficient to stop the tides from taking over places like Tuvalu.