GOP Contenders: Climate Change is a “Hoax”—or Maybe Just China’s Fault

Climate change comments from the Republican presidential debate.

It was an unexpected challenge to the field of Republican presidential contenders (minus Donald Trump) who gathered for their party’s first presidential primary debate of the 2024 campaign. A Fox News panelist posed a question asking them to speak to young voters’ concern that their party was not offering solutions to the climate crisis.

Sadly, none of the candidates offered a strong action program in response. Responses ranged from blunt denial—climate change is a “hoax”—to deflection: Yes, climate change is real, but we should tell China and India to fix it.

“The climate change agenda is a hoax,” said Vivek Ramaswamy during the debate, repeating the line for emphasis, even as some younger people in the audience booed. “The reality is more people are dying of climate change policies than they actually are of climate change.”

The day after the debate, some frustrated young pro-conservation Republicans spoke with the Associated Press. “We’re getting to a point where Republicans are losing winnable elections because they’re alienating people that care about climate change,” said Christopher Barnard, the Republican president of the American Conservation Coalition.

Ron DeSantis deflected responding to the question, and instead attacked President Biden on his response to the wildfires on Maui. Of the eight candidates onstage, only Nikki Haley said in her response that climate change “is real”—but she then immediately deflected to accusing China and India of being the real sources of the problem.

Surely, America’s second largest political party can do better than this on the gravest current threat to the survival of human civilization.

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