In the wake of high prices at the pump, elevated inflation, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, energy prices and energy security are a top concern of American families. The national average price for a gallon of gas is above $5.00 per gallon ahead of the summer driving season. Monthly energy bills for households and businesses are up, too, and will likely be even higher as demand increases over the summer.
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Part of the blame for the turbulent energy markets goes to a global pandemic that challenged supply chains. The war in Ukraine is making things worse. Bad policy, however, exacerbates these problems, making it more difficult to respond. Policies and regulations that restrict access to America’s abundance of natural resources, increase the time needed to deploy clean technologies, that distort markets through costly, ineffective subsidies, and constrain access to international markets have increased costs for families and businesses and impeded environmental progress.
The economy or the climate? Why not both?
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Frustrated by higher energy prices, and higher prices generally, Americans want answers.
How should policymakers respond? By elevating and empowering the problem-solvers and the doers: the innovators, entrepreneurs, engineers, and investors. Delivering more affordable and secure power does not have to conflict with climate progress. In fact, the policy solutions that are essential for economic progress are similarly essential for environmental progress. As we’ve demonstrated, free economies are twice as clean as mostly unfree economies. Unleashing human ingenuity will increase and diversify energy supplies and will also reduce emissions and help communities better adapt to climate change.
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In our new report, the Climate and Freedom Agenda, we advance a set of energy, environment, and climate solutions that would work for all Americans. We offer policy recommendations to increase energy supplies, enhance innovation, build faster, expand natural climate solutions, and commit to research, development and deployment. Covering everything from energy and transportation to agriculture and forest management, the ten chapters build on the following five themes:
- Improving energy affordability, energy security, and prosperity while advancing climate ambitions. A climate and freedom agenda encourages innovation, creates jobs, provides affordable, reliable energy while reducing emissions, and helps us better adapt to a changing climate. At a minimum, it will raise global standards of living, increase economies’ ability to scale up low-carbon and emissions-free technologies, and reduce the risk of global climate change. More global resources will be available for environmental and climate protection.
- Driving down costs and speeding up deployment. Faster deployment is essential to speed up the pace of an energy transition, protect natural ecosystems, and deliver more climate-resilient infrastructure. Streamlining environmental reviews and permitting will bring more renewables, transmission, nuclear, efficient manufacturing, and sturdier buildings online faster. Permitting efficiency will create jobs and deliver clean, affordable energy to families and businesses. More resilient infrastructure will save lives and minimize damage from extreme weather events. Driving down costs and speeding up deployment is the key to advancing economic and climate goals.
- Empowering America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest managers. Investing in healthy natural ecosystems is integral for climate mitigation and adaptation. Conservation, restoration, and better land practices create more opportunities for forests, grasslands, and wetlands to capture and store carbon dioxide. Active land management that promotes healthy forests and eradicates invasive species will also reduce the risk of wildfires, floods, and droughts. Various farming and ranching practices such as regenerative agriculture and precision agriculture will result in healthier soils and higher yields while sequestering more emissions. Removing barriers to ecosystem investment and land management while encouraging collaborative partnerships that harness the power of positive incentives will empower farmers, ranchers, and forest managers to provide goods consumers need while sequestering more carbon dioxide and reducing the risks of extreme weather.
- Demonstrating international leadership by accelerating innovation domestically and opening markets to investment and trade. Any conversation about solutions and reducing the risks and costs of climate change must be global in nature. Reducing energy poverty, protecting the environment, and reducing the cost of climate change are not exclusive goals to one another. The most politically and economically plausible path toward global decarbonization is to show that it is in the economic interest of developed and developing economies to pursue those technologies. Developing low-cost, low-carbon energy sources domestically will allow other countries to adopt these technologies in a way that benefits their economy and environment alike.
- Embracing economic freedom. Free economies are clean economies. The connection between free societies and human flourishing is undeniable. As economic freedom has improved around the world, the key indicators that measure human well-being have improved as well. Improving the indicators that measure a country’s overall economic freedom: property rights, investment freedom, regulatory and tax efficiency, trade freedom, and strong institutions will be essential to making environmental and climate progress.
Threats to our country’s economic and national security come in multiple forms and over different time horizons: high energy prices and inflation, a looming recessionary environment, Vladimir Putin, and climate change are just a few of those threats. Effective, fiscally responsible policy solutions can help reduce the risk of all these threats. Policy reforms that enhance energy security and advance climate goals must first work for American families.
You can read the full report here.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of C3.