Why Conservatives Turned Against the Environment: They’re busy making accusations of “eco-radicalism” while the world burns. It wasn’t always like that (ARNO KOPECKY, Jan. 10, 2024, The Walrus)
These tactics are part of a larger strategy that has come to define modern Conservatives: frame ecological protection as an assault on freedom and affordability. This goes well beyond climate policy, encompassing everything from forest protection and efforts to save endangered caribou to the federal government’s failed attempt at banning single-use plastic bags.
It hasn’t always been this way. It was Conservatives, after all, who convened a global treaty to save the ozone layer in 1987, who wrote the original Environmental Protection Act that became federal law in 1988, and who signed a historic accord with the United States to curb acid rain in 1991. It was also Conservatives who first proposed a carbon tax. As recently as 2007, Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper called climate change “perhaps the biggest threat to confront the future of humanity.” Almost two decades later, with ecological warning lights blinking red across the planet, Conservatives have transformed themselves into a national vessel of denial.
They’re not alone. From US Republicans to Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro and India’s current government under Narendra Modi, anti-environmentalism is now a hallmark of the global right. How did we get here?
Conservatism is a disposition. Identitarianism is emotion.