Republican Rep. Says GOP Has Been on Wrong Side of Climate Change Debate

Representative Peter Meijer (R-MI) has said the Republican Party has not been on the "right side" of the climate change debate.

Meijer, 33, told The Guardian newspaper that the issue was a matter of concern for him and younger members of the GOP—but said some members of the GOP conference remained skeptical over it.

"Plenty of members of the conference are still in perpetual skeptic mode," Meijer said.

"When you talk to younger conservatives, the issue of climate is No 1 or 2, but for older generations that's not the case.

"It's important for the future of our country and the party we stop viewing it as a partisan issue."

Meijer, a first term member of Congress, told the newspaper his party was undergoing a "generational shift" on the issue of climate change.

"It's moving a very large ship a matter of degrees. It won't happen overnight," Meijer said.

"Climate is one of the areas I was concerned about in terms of the long-term trajectory of the party.

"We are seeing first steps in messaging and proposals. There's a recognition that we have not been on the right side of this and we need to get on the right side of this."

However, Meijer criticized President Joe Biden's approach to tackling climate change. The president has committed to cutting U.S. emissions in half by 2030.

"This is a moral imperative. An economic imperative. A moment of peril, but also a moment of extraordinary possibilities," Biden said at a climate summit hosted by the White House on April 22.

Meijer said Biden had embraced "fanciful and implausible priorities that are more about messaging to a progressive base than moving the needle on emissions."

He supports a plan from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), which is more modest than the administration's approach and doesn't include a target for reducing emissions.

Meijer also addressed a recent controversy surrounding a false assertion about the Biden administration's plans for red meat consumption. The claim stated that part of Biden's climate plan aimed to cut Americans' consumption of red meat by 90 percent.

Some elected Republicans spread the claim but it was later debunked. Biden has never proposed cutting red meat consumption to tackle climate change.

Meijer said the red meat claim showed "we are still prone to latching onto things without checking their veracity."

The Michigan Republican was one of 10 GOP members of the House to vote to impeach former President Donald Trump following the deadly Capitol riot on January 6. The most prominent of these, Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY), was recently removed as House Republican Conference Chair.

Newsweek has asked Rep. Meijer for further comment on his climate change remarks.

Representative Peter Meijer of Michigan
Republican congressman in the 3rd district Peter Meijer introduces US Vice President Mike Pence at a campaign event at Lacks Enterprises, Inc. in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on October 14, 2020. Meijer has said climate change should not be a partisan issue. JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images