Republicans Proving to Be the Party of ‘Yes’ on Climate Solutions
In recent weeks, Republicans have scored two major victories on climate change.
For those who haven’t paid close attention, polls over the last decade have shown a steady shift among conservative voters on this issue. In fact, a study backed my organization earlier this year found that more than two-thirds of GOP voters surveyed believe that human-caused pollution contributes to climate change. So, their leaders have been listening, and more importantly, taking action.
The first big success was the formation of a Conservative Climate Caucus, founded by Utah Congressman John Curtis. It quickly attracted more than 60 members of the House GOP and will focus on educating fellow Republicans on conservative climate solutions that leverage American innovation and enhance U.S. prosperity.
The Conservative Climate Caucus reflects the culmination of years of genuine coalition-building inside the party. It began with the unified belief that the climate is changing and reducing emissions should be the goal, not reducing energy choices. Republicans know that private sector innovation, American resources, and R&D investment have and will continue to lower emissions, produce affordable, reliable energy and position the United States as the global leader. And we are comfortable promoting these practical solutions in the face of baseless, “feel good” policies.
Republicans have emerged as the party of “yes” when it comes to addressing the climate— promoting practical, commonsense solutions that can be implemented immediately and exported to countries around the world whose carbon emissions continue to increase even as we lower ours.
The second major victory in recent weeks is a fine example of this: passage of the Growing Climate Solutions Act (GCSA) in the U.S. Senate, which was a free-market win for agriculture producers, businesses, and the climate. It is a solution that helps reduce emissions without heavy-handed government mandates, new taxes, or unnecessary regulations that only drive up the cost of food and energy production.
GCSA would allow valuable carbon credits to be harvested along with any crops farmed using climate-friendly practices and streamlines the sale of those credits on voluntary carbon credit markets. The bill’s lead sponsor, Republican Senator Mike Braun of Indiana, knows that when our farmers, ranchers, and foresters go the extra mile to help reduce America’s carbon footprint, they should be rewarded, not penalized.
GCSA passed with strong bipartisan support, but it gained more Republican votes than Democrats. Notably, “no” votes included high-profile climate warriors, Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Meanwhile, extreme “green” activist groups shunned it because it supposedly doesn’t go far enough. What’s wrong with making incremental progress, especially if climate is as big and urgent of a problem that these activists claim it is in their fundraising appeals?
The truth is, Democrats are giving too much say to their progressive wing, making them portray “our way or the highway” thinking for the entire party as evidenced by rejecting commonsense climate solutions in order to make Americans think that a socialist wishlist of wealth transfer policies are the only way to stave off world destruction. Most Americans know better.
The Conservative Climate Caucus is only a few weeks old, and the GCSA still has to pass the House, but both underscore the GOP’s commitment to clean energy and climate solutions. Will bipartisan, mainstream solutions get bypassed by Democrats because of progressives’ objections or will Democrats start working with Republicans on solutions that both parties can agree on? We all should be watching.
Heather Reams is Executive Director for Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES), a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization founded in 2013 to engage Republican policymakers and the public about responsible, conservative solutions to address our nation’s energy, economic, and environmental security while increasing America’s competitive edge.