Tuesday, May 02, 2017

There Is a Conservative Approach to Climate Change

It’s just not what Bret Stephens, The New York Times’ new columnist, says.

Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III is among a group of veteran Republicans proposing a carbon tax plan to combat global climate change. (Credit: Ronny Hartmann / Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
There have been two basic responses to The New York Times’ hiring of conservative writer Bret Stephens, and to his first column, which dug in on his argument that climate change might not be the crisis scientists are telling us it is.

Many climate scientists and advocates ― and science-minded people, generally ― are outraged that the Times would grant prime real estate to such views.  The counter-response from the right asserts that liberals just can’t stand a conservative voice on the op-ed page ― see here, here, or here for evidence of such.  Editorial page editor James Bennet’s feeble defense also seems to endorse that argument.

But many of the responses assume that Bret Stephens’ views are the only conservative approach to climate change ― and that’s not true.  While Stephens may bemoan “overweening scientism,” there are plenty of conservatives arguing for conservative responses to the threat of climate change.
There isn’t just one conservative approach to the issue.  A prominent group of Republicans, including former Secretaries of State James A. Baker III and George Shultz, and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, introduced a carbon tax plan in February, calling it “an insurance policy” against the “mounting evidence of climate change.”

The free-market think tank R Street advocates for a tax swap that sets a fee on emissions in exchange for cutting taxes in other areas.  R Street has joined Friends of the Earth and Taxpayers for Common Sense to create list of environmentally problematic federal programs ― a unique partnership between small-government conservatives and environmentalists on shared priorities.

The group ConservAmerica advocates for what it calls a “Zero Regrets” energy and tax policy that eliminates taxes on no-emissions energy (which it considers nuclear, hydropower, wind, solar, and some types of biomass).

“It’s a conservative solution.  For one, it’s a tax cut primarily,” said Rob Sission, the group’s president.  “Even if you’re in Bret Stephens’ camp and don’t believe [climate change] is a big problem, it’s an insurance policy.  If there’s a possibility it could be anywhere near the problem a lot of people believe it is, why not do something to address emissions that would not be a negative on the economy and would spur energy, innovation and jobs?”

There are also efforts in Congress.  A group of 17 House Republicans ― many of them from parts of the U.S. most vulnerable to climate change ― came together in March to call for “prudent, fact-based stewardship of our economy and our environment.”

Read more at There Is a Conservative Approach to Climate Change

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