One of the most destructive myths of modern times is the idea that somehow conservatism is incompatible with good climate policy. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Conservatives have overseen some of the most enduring legacies of American environmental policy. Republican Presidents created the Environmental Protection Agency, signed the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act Amendments, the Oil Pollution Act into law, adopted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, developed the world’s first market-based emissions reductions programs, and protected America’s wetlands while supporting economic growth and development. America’s first true environmental President, Theodore Roosevelt, whose name is synonymous with conservation, established 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, four national game preserves, five national parks and 18 national monuments on over 230 million acres of public land.
Whether compelled by personal faith and deep reverence for creation, appreciation for the importance of individual responsibility that accompanies the freedoms we all enjoy, or a desire to leave future generations better off than those that came before, conservatives of all shapes and stripes care very much about planet Earth, and ensuring clean, healthy air and water for all of its inhabitants.
CRES Forum has developed the following eight conservative climate policy directives to engage with legislators, policymakers, the press, and the public on creating better, lasting and significant policies that will protect the planet and our future economic growth for generations to come.
1. KEEP ALL OPTIONS ON THE TABLE TO REDUCE EMISSIONS
Government should not pick winners and losers, but instead support all possible technological options available to avoid, reduce, capture and sequester greenhouse gases. The all of the above approach to clean energy is the principal reason the U.S. has been able to reduce carbon emissions more than any other country. Diverse climate solutions will drive the broadest economic growth, job creation, and expedite the transition to a clean energy economy – and thereby create opportunity and limit pollution exposure for all Americans.
2. LOWER COSTS, DON’T HIKE PRICES
Markets benefit from strong and consistent price signals. Federal tax incentives have guided investment to low- and zero emissions generation and carbon capture utilization and sequestration. The federal government should strengthen market signals for carbon avoidance and sequestration incentives. Driving down costs for energy is particularly important for improving the quality of life of lower income communities.
3. SUPPORT INNOVATION
The federal government plays an important role in technological innovation. Continued investment in research, development, deployment, and commercialization will further lower costs and create more options to address climate change and help drive the domestic economy as the next generation of clean energy solutions are deployed around the world.
4. OFFSET CARBON USING NATURE-BASED SOLUTIONS
Negative emissions or sequestration is a critical part of the math for achieving net-zero. Federal efforts should focus on strengthening methodologies and supporting voluntary markets for carbon capture and exchange, especially for the benefit of America’s farmers, ranchers, and foresters. Nature-based solutions are cost effective, quickly deployable, and necessary for enhancing the resilience and adaptive potential of America’s working lands.
5. ELIMINATE REGULATORY BARRIERS
Minimize administrative burdens and duplicative policies while maximizing compliance flexibility. This will encourage rapid development of clean energy technologies without compromising public health and environment.
6. LINK FOREIGN AID AND TRADE TO DOMESTIC CLIMATE GOALS
The federal government should assure that U.S. solutions are brought to the world through aid and trade policy. These policies must be responsive to domestic environmental goals and our national security needs but avoid unnecessary market distortions. By doing so, the U.S. can better engage and lead in the international sphere. Federal policy should reward American companies with high environmental performance and assure they won’t be undercut by countries and foreign businesses lagging in the race to reduce emissions.
7. ENCOURAGE TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Companies, states, and municipalities, ranging from very large to very small, have set locally appropriate science-based targets to reduce emissions and are on pathways to achieve their goals. Federal efforts should complement state, local and private sector climate goals by improving information available to consumers and investors about carbon. As a result, individuals, businesses, and government purchasers will be empowered to reduce emissions quickly at the lowest possible cost.
8. LEVERAGE PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS
The federal government must reduce and avoid emissions from federally owned and managed buildings. Private sector expertise and capital can be leveraged through energy efficiency performance contracts to reduce energy, emissions, and provide cost savings to the end users. Furthermore, federal lands and waters offer prime wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, and transmission potential. Allowing private development on federal lands can unlock these vast renewable resources and provide revenue for operating and maintaining America’s iconic parks and monuments.