Last week, Senators Mike Braun (R-IN) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), among a bipartisan group, introduced The Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020, which could become a watershed moment in the conservative clean energy movement.
The legislation empowers farmers to be part of the climate solution on a voluntary basis and creates options for people and companies to offset carbon emissions without mandates. It also promotes conservation and sustainable land-use practice—which are good conservative values—and it will help lower the costs of tackling climate change by creating the framework for a larger carbon offset market.
There are two key strengths of this voluntary approach. First, it reduces barriers for farmers through a clear framework and technical assistance; and second, it provides a means for verifying emissions reductions to build confidence in this growing market.
If you’ve followed CRES Forum for a while and these ideas seem familiar to you—you’re right. The bill’s introduction marks nearly two years of effort by CRES to establish a voluntary framework to empower people and businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions taking a limited government approach.
In September 2018, CRES was the first to introduce the voluntary framework to address climate change problems. In early 2019, CRES started to socialize the conservative climate proposal with House and Senate members, receiving early support from Senator Braun and Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY). Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) included the voluntary framework as part of the Green Real Deal. In late 2019, CRES Forum included the voluntary framework in its submission to the House Select Committee and connected the dots between carbon capture and voluntary framework in a piece, ”The Fizz in Your Drink is More Connected to Climate Change than You Think.” We are very grateful to Senator Braun’s team for considering our ideas in his groundbreaking legislation.
We’re proud of our work on this, particularly the insight of our Vice-President of Policy and Advocacy, Charles Hernick, who initially conceived of the idea of a voluntary framework as a conservative and limited federal climate policy.
The bill gained the support of a diverse group of organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Corn Growers Association, Environmental Defense Fund, McDonald’s, Microsoft, and over 40 farm groups, environmental organizations, and Fortune 500 companies.
The Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020 will decrease greenhouse gas emissions, decrease the costs associated with achieving climate goals, and grow the market for clean energy and climate solutions. More importantly, it will demonstrate that strong climate policy does not have to be synonymous with big government. And passage of this bill will help create an additional revenue stream for our struggling farmers during these difficult times.
Looking forward, this bill can serve as a model for how to empower people and the private sector to act together on climate. The legislation actually implements only one of the key components of the voluntary framework we developed, so there will be other opportunities for further legislative proposals if this effort proves successful.