Climate change is not often discussed in conservative circles. Although there are many different reasons for this, it is time for Republicans to take a more serious look at this issue, both for the sake of the environment and for the sake of the party.
Most Republicans shy away from environmental issues because it is seen as the territory of the left. Even bringing up the topic can lead to accusations of abandoning conservative principles. By holding this position so ardently, however, conservatives cripple themselves on a winnable issue. There are practical, free market, solutions that conservatives should embrace which would improve the economy, help the environment, and grow the Republican Party.
Alex Bozmoski, the Director of Strategy & Operations for RepublicEn, an organization advocating free market solutions to climate change, says that one of the biggest obstacles to conservatives how what to engage on this issue is that climate change has been hijacked by liberals as a vehicle for leftist policies “For a generation, since the Berlin Wall fell and many Reds went Green, the Left has rallied around climate change as the pretense for massive government interventions in the economy and our daily lives” This has made many conservatives abandon the issue altogether, instead of advocating free market solutions.
‘RepublicEn’ was formed by former South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis in order to enable conservative lawmakers to pursue solutions to climate change other than the failed progressive policies of taxation and regulation. According to Bozmoski, conservatives have lost on climate change because they haven’t competed “The result is insufficient, inefficient, ineffective climate policy because the Left’s approach is the only game in town.”
One solution that conservatives should propose to compete on this issue is to tax carbon emissions. This might initially sound like the usually liberal solution of penalizing free enterprise, but Bozmoski believes that this tax would make the energy industry more competitive “Right now America subsidizes clean energy and dirty energy, and we give an extra, massive subsidy to dirty energy by allowing polluters to socialize the cost of their pollution. In a truly free market without subsidies or free pollution, energy industries would innovate and compete for customers instead of for political patronage.” Bozmoski explained. This tax would encourage the development of clean energy by putting all every sources on an equal playing field and allowing them to compete.
Furthermore, this plan would be revenue-neutral, meaning that all income generated by the carbon tax would correspond, dollar for dollar, with tax cuts in other areas. This would allow us to reduce carbon emissions while also relieving the tax burden of Americans all over the country. Bozmoski believes that this will create a much better tax policy because we will be able to tax things we want less of, like pollution, while cutting taxes on things we want more of, like income and investment.
Although this proposal has not yet gained a lot of traction in Congress, RepublicEn believes that they can advance it effectively by encouraging men and women across the country to show their support for free market solutions to climate change. “We believe that lawmakers are ready to lead on this issue but are hesitant because they believe that their conservative constituents wouldn’t support them,” Bozmoski said. “Just a couple hundred conservative constituents in any district can inspire a lot of courage in their Member of Congress to lead on climate change. It’s about education.”
This is a critical issue for Republicans to take action on because the American people will not give them a choice not to for much longer. Over seventy percent of Americans say that they are personally concerned about climate change. If conservatives do not fight for solutions to this problem, liberals will. The resulting policies will be both bad for both the environment and the economy. Instead, we should take the lead on environmental policy and show that the free market is a better solution than government regulation.