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Rep. John Curtis Wants To Reframe Conversation Around Climate Change

John Curtis

Utah Congressman John Curtis reflected on his experience as an elected official—both at the local and federal levels—when it comes to addressing climate change and environmental issues. 

Rep. John Curtis, a Republican from Utah’s third congressional district, expressed feeling a bit out of place at Park City’s Mountain Towns 2030 net-zero conference Thursday.

“I really shouldn’t be here, and let me tell you what I mean by that," Curtis said. "I'm a Republican; I was the mayor of Provo, Utah, arguably the most conservative city in the most conservative county in the most conservative state, arguably, in the United States.”

Curtis recently made clear at a constituent town hall and on the floor of the House that he believes climate change is caused by human actions. But as he spoke to an auditorium of policymakers, nonprofits and businesses from mountain communities about the political conversation around climate change, he suggested a few items to consider as they try to make an impact.

Curtis says the most effective and consequential change will happen at the local level; that efforts need to be bipartisan; and to focus on the big picture.

“I'm not saying we shouldn't go full speed on reducing carbon here in the United States," Curtis said. "I'm saying don't forget the big picture because if we reduce the U.S. carbon to zero, we've moved the needle by 15% on the world stage. We've got to be talking global impact.”

Curtis also says the so-called “litmus test” for climate change—the questions “is the climate changing and is man influencing it”—causes further division between republicans and democrats. Curtis offered what he thinks is a better litmus test.

“Do you want to leave the earth better than you found it? I don't know a single Republican in the entire state of Utah that doesn't want to leave the earth better than they found it," Curtis said. "But I can't tell you how many times I've been approached and have people say, before they're willing to engage me on the environment, 'do you believe the climate is changing and do you believe man is influencing it.' By the way, I do and it is.”

Curtis represents Wasatch County in his congressional district.

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