By Jeff Luse
When solutions for climate change are discussed, the debate is often one of renewable energy versus fossil fuels, or electric vehicles versus traditional combustion engines. While these discussions are important, they often overshadow one of the most effective forms of carbon mitigation: natural solutions.
Natural solutions such as reforestation and agricultural innovation are some of the most important tools in the fight against climate change, and they have found a champion in Congressman Glenn Thompson.
Thompson, a Republican who represents Pennsylvania’s 15th congressional district, sat down today with C3 Solutions’ John Hart on Facebook Live to discuss the importance of natural solutions and their role in lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
For Rep. Thompson, natural solutions are gifts from God that we can use to more responsibly stewards to the earth.
“At its very basis [natural solutions] are what God has blessed us with,” said Thompson. “It’s the resources that He has provided us.”
Divinely given, nature-based solutions (NBS) have been increasingly effective at reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in America and around the globe. In 2018 alone, global tree cover removed 37.1 million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. In addition, international studies estimate that global afforestation efforts — the planting of trees where there currently are none – can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by more than 200 gigatons.
Nature-based solutions don’t just stop at tree planting but include agriculture as well. While seen as an environmental villain by some on the political Left, agriculture is vital in the fight to lower emissions, said Rep. Thompson: “Agriculture has always been science, technology, and innovation.”
Thompson argues that since the beginning of time, farmers have been innovating and using science to more efficiently grow crops and feed people. This trial-and-error process has become one of the most important aspects of modern farming, precision agriculture.
Precision agriculture is where technology and traditional farming come together. By using Artificial Intelligence and other computer applications, farmers can more accurately plant, tend, and harvest their crops. These advancements allow farmers to lower their carbon footprint, while producing more food with less land—a win-win for the planet and its people.
In terms of climate change, Congressman Thompson believes it is essential to lead through what he calls “principled leadership.” In all the climate work that he does on Capitol Hill, Rep. Thompson adheres to the following principles:
- “You can’t have a healthier environment without a healthier economy; it just doesn’t work,” said Thompson. “You can’t have one without the other.”
- “Whatever we do should truly be science-based, not myth, not emotion.”
- “Let’s start with what we know works as a starting point.”
While Rep. Thompson has become a leader on climate change, he admits that Republicans have not traditionally been leaders in this field.
“I acknowledge that Republicans have not been at the table in any significant way on climate in the past,” he said. “And I think when we’ve done that, we, unfortunately, have ceded the narrative to the extreme liberal voices on the other side.”
While conservatives have failed at this issue in the past, Thompson is a firm believer that Republicans can offer winning solutions for the future.
“What I try to point out to my colleagues, and quite frankly to conservatives, is that Republican policies have worked; we have just not taken credit for it,” he said.
Indeed, conservative principles and solutions have been shown to improve the health of the environment. C3 Solutions recently published a white paper titled “Free Economies are Clean Economies” that found countries with free economies typically have environmental scores nearly double those of unfree economies.
Economic freedom allows countries to grow their economies and bring people out of poverty while establishing technologies that benefit the environment.
With an administration and progressive party in power that prioritizes an all-of-government approach to climate change, it is important to have principled conservatives such as Congressman Thompson to offer solutions rooted in agriculture, nature, and free markets. Through his leadership, conservatives can once again become the party of truth and science.
Watch the full interview with Rep. Thompson here.