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Yes, There’s a Republican Climate Plan, and It’s Awesome

One of the more important “existential” questions in today’s climate debate is what constitutes a real and serious climate plan and whether Republicans have one. On one side, the environmental left, led by groups like the League of Conservation Voters, insists the answer is no. 

>>>READ: The House Republican Climate Plan is a Gamechanger

As Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of government relations at the League for Conservation Voters, told E&E News, “Acknowledging that climate change is real in 2023 is woefully insufficient and inadequate. Their solutions that would keep us depending on dirty fossil fuels are not actual solutions, and so just not saying absolutely ridiculous climate denier things on their face does not mean that they evolved in any meaningful way.”

On the other side, Rep. John Curtis (R-UT), the chair of the Conservative Climate Caucus, says, “We can be energy independent; we can be energy dominant. We can have low, affordable prices, and a strong economy – and reduce emissions.”

Polling suggests conservation voters are with Curtis, not the environmental left. Voters want bottom-up solutions that reduce regulatory burdens and advance an “all of the above” energy agenda more than a top-down command and control “everything but fossil fuels and nuclear” agenda. 

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More importantly, the quality of any policy plan shouldn’t be measured by earnestness and rhetorical repetition. For instance, saying the words “deficit reduction” repeatedly doesn’t rehabilitate confiscatory, anti-growth tax policy that increases the deficit. Similarly, preaching “climate, climate, climate” doesn’t do anything to reduce emissions. 

When it comes to climate change, hitting targets is vastly more important than having targets. Engaging in “I’m going to reach net zero one year earlier than you” one-upmanship and virtue signaling does nothing to reduce emissions. What matters is actual policy, and the ability of policy to accelerate energy innovation, expand economic freedom and therefore reduce emissions. As research has shown, free economies are twice as clean as less free economies. 

>>>READ: Rep. John Curtis Details Rollout of GOP Climate Plan

Case in point: The most significant emissions reduction achievement in the past 25 years – the fracking revolution – was not sold as a “climate” plan. Republicans never asked for a “climate” trophy, but they have certainly earned one. Doing more of what led to the fracking revolution (i.e. letting innovators innovate with a limited role for government) is a much more serious climate plan than doubling down on regulatory mandates and anti-fossil fuel and anti-nuclear dogma that creates a safe space for dictators. 

Still, Republicans should err on the side of being bold and not be afraid of promoting the climate benefits of their policy agenda. That’s why our sister organization, C3 Action, along with 32 other organizations, sent a letter to House GOP leaders urging them to make their climate plan even better. We write:

“The climate is changing, and Americans of all backgrounds want effective, commonsense

solutions … [W]e look forward to your leadership in streamlining onerous regulations

holding back all energy development, encouraging clean energy innovation, bolstering domestic

supply chains, and unleashing the power of American energy producers to compete on the world stage against the likes of China and Russia.”

We’re confident leaders like the new Chairman of the House Natural Resource committee Bruce Westerman (R-AR) will take the challenge of combatting climate change much more seriously than his predecessor, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), who gratuitously attacked the Supreme Court for giving his committee more power. Westerman, a forester by training, is one of the very few leaders in the debate who has done actual conservation work, as I discussed with him last year. 

Westerman said, “Climate change is being used as the tool to pass a socialist agenda, which is unfortunate. If we wanted to address carbon in the atmosphere, climate change all comes down to carbon in the atmosphere. There’s nothing that takes carbon out of the atmosphere like a tree.”

That’s good, plain common sense. Let’s hope Westerman takes a chain saw to the regulatory state and clears out the underbrush. 

In politics, it’s healthy for two sides to debate what set of policies is more likely to achieve positive outcomes. The environmental left should keep that in mind and focus on the merits of how its policies will reduce emissions instead of engaging in climate plan denial. 

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of C3.

Copyright © 2020 Conservative Coalition for Climate Solutions

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