Trying to win the support of blue-collar workers in the Rust Belt as he seeks the 2024 GOP nomination, Trump repeatedly attacked President Joe Biden’s climate policies and called the massive investment in electric vehicles a “hit job in Michigan and on Detroit.”
Unlike Trump, who thinks that playing up this tension between pocketbook concerns and environmentalism wins him votes, Biden is offering a future where green energy can preserve jobs and the environment at the same time. It remains to be seen which perspective voters, especially those walking the picket lines, will choose.
If we want to think about how we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels without causing economic pain, we must appreciate that the tension between these goals runs deep. Here history provides a cautionary tale about how hard it will be for Biden to go green without the loss of jobs or lifestyles that Americans are accustomed to.
In 2023, environmentalism, even as it is subject to the rampant polarization of our time, is seemingly more popular than ever as we are living through wildfires, floods and record heat, all with devastating consequences. We see the consequences of climate change all around us.
And yet Americans still do not want to pay for a green future. In a recent poll from the AP-NORC Center and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, only 38% of Americans said they would be willing to pay $1 a month in a carbon tax to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.