Vivek Ramaswamy sought to offer young Republican voters Monday evening an in-depth look into his stance on climate change after the GOP presidential candidate called it a “hoax” during primary debates.
It’s an issue that younger generations across political parties say is a priority for them, with Republicans lobbying even conservatives like Mr. Ramaswamy to adapt their viewpoints.
The biotech entrepreneur and asset firm manager acknowledged that humans are causing a global rise in temperatures but does not believe the government should take action to reduce emissions and that there are positives from a changing climate.
“There are some net positive impacts for humanity from climate change,” Mr. Ramaswamy said in a town hall event in New Hampshire hosted by young conservative groups. “How could it be that the climate was changing, but it was only in every way that could be negative?”
He argued that warming global temperatures will mean fewer cold-related deaths and questioned statistics about extreme heat leading to more deaths in the U.S. He also argued the Earth is covered by more forests and vegetation than in past decades in part because of increased carbon dioxide emissions.
As president, Mr. Ramaswamy vows to stop all government tracking of carbon emissions and put Americans’ economic welfare above all else.
“I don’t think that we should be focused on reducing emissions as a goal,” he said. “Let’s start measuring American health, how many people are dying of diseases every year that could be preventable or otherwise, and then measure our economic growth.”
The event touched on a range of topics and was hosted by American Conservation Coalition Action, New Hampshire Young Republicans and New Hampshire College Republicans.
Chris Barnard, president of ACC Action, a younger generation conservative climate activist group, told The Washington Times after the event that there remained a “gulf” between Mr. Ramaswamy’s climate change positions and “what the reality and the science of the issue tells us, and, frankly, where young conservatives are.”
“There are issues we also agree on — nuclear energy, cutting government red tape, making sure that we’re not sacrificing economic prosperity, using innovation to solve these problems,” Mr. Barnard said.
“Those are important points, but divorced from the recognition of the extent of the problem, they ring a little hollow,” he said.
Mr. Barnard, who moderated the portion of the town hall on climate change, pressed Mr. Ramaswamy on how he expects to win over an increasing cohort of Republican voters who think the environment will play a large impact on their futures.
“What Republican candidates need to reckon with is there is no viable electoral path to long-term success without talking about the issues young people care about, and climate and the environment are top of that list,” Mr. Barnard told The Times.
Mr. Ramaswamy conceded he’s seen polling saying as much, but made the case that he can win over such voters by preventing green energy policies that may hurt their financial freedom.
“I know the polling data you’re talking about, and I believe that we want young people to come out and support us because I think we need generational change in this country,” the White House hopeful said at the town hall. The American Dream “is hanging on for life support. I worry we’re going to cut that final cord if the United States moves towards forced decarbonization — a government top-down version of that as a goal.”
Mr. Ramaswamy also repeated a claim that clean energy policies to reduce emissions have caused more deaths than climate change and worsening extreme weather events.
Mr. Barnard told Mr. Ramaswamy that he agrees there is “hysteria” from left-leaning climate groups and Democratic lawmakers but that the alarmist rhetoric does not mean Republicans “should be rejecting the fact that there’s a problem altogether.”
Mr. Ramaswamy replied that “we’re more likely to be able to adapt, as we always have, through the improvement in quality of our buildings or our vehicles, or temperature regulation or otherwise, sooner than we’re somehow to play God.
“If this kind of human behavior has already changed the climate by a little bit that was unintentional, who are we to think that an intentional change of human intervention in the climate is going to produce something more desirable than what we already have today?” he said.