Guest column: Conservatives can fight climate change | Opinions and Editorials

It is completely uncontroversial for policy makers and political leaders to say that we should do more things in America. In other words, with the exception of one notable group: environmentalists.

The narrative in mainstream environmental circles is that America and our capitalist system are the cause of all ills in our society, down to climate change in particular. The problem with this is that the data does not back it up. In fact, the best thing we could do to reduce global emissions would be to stimulate cleaner domestic manufacturing and energy production.

Young conservatives like me care deeply about the environment, and it frustrates us to the core that Republican leaders don’t shout that from the rooftops.

The GOP establishment fears two things when they avoid addressing climate and the environment: that their solutions will fall short of those of the Democrats, and that they will be attacked in a primary as too moderate. Academic Republicans across the country are proving this wrong, and with the massive turnout of young people in recent elections, party leaders would be wise to take the issues important to us seriously for the general election as well.

Here in America and in Louisiana, the manufacturers are very carbon-efficient. Simply put, we manufacture products with far lower emissions than almost any country in the world. Compared to China and Russia, our industries are on average three to four times cleaner. The chemical industry, often attacked, is 10 to 40% cleaner than its competitors abroad. Domestic oil and gas, due to stricter environmental standards, produce far less pollution than oil produced in places like Venezuela and Russia.

So when Democrats beg bad actors for energy, why don’t we as Republicans point out that it makes no economic or political sense and is environmentally absurd? This is exactly what we expect from our representatives in Congress. We’re tired of seeing the GOP respond to far-left climate extremism by simply saying “not that,” with no alternative or explanation to their opposition. We must go on the attack, test the solutions of the left by proposing better ones.

Fortunately, the Louisiana congressional delegation has begun to adopt this posture, with US Representatives Garret Graves of Baton Rouge and Steve Scalise of Jefferson Parish constantly calling out radicalism from the left and US Senator Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge advocating policies that would level the playing field with China on climate. However, we need a cohesive national narrative from the GOP.

Specifically, we need to embrace what is called “America’s carbon advantage”: the reality that the US economy is significantly cleaner than our competitors. By adopting an American-first solution like a carbon tariff or a carbon border adjustment, we can both level the playing field on trade and win a massive political victory that creates a clear alternative to the disastrous climate ideas of the left. . If we don’t, we will end up letting activists on our college campuses decide our energy future.

Of course, there is always a political concern when it comes to addressing certain issues, and elected officials think rationally about risk. Traditionally, “climate change” has always been associated with the left, and it was assumed that even talking about it, Republicans running for office would be seen as Republicans in name only and mostly from the right. However, in recent years, voters have clearly decided that they do not believe environmental protection is contrary to conservatism.

The GOP has a history of conservation, from Teddy Roosevelt’s national parks program to George HW Bush dealing with the acid rain crisis. Three-quarters of Republicans under 40 want action on climate change, and congressional Republicans who joined the conservative climate group actually performed better in the primaries than they did two years ago.

This should be exactly how Republicans talk about climate change: Climate change deserves to be taken seriously, which means we need to hold the biggest polluters accountable and put America first. If this really is an existential crisis, why aren’t we tackling the more than 85% of emissions that come from abroad? This is because the green left doesn’t really take the issue seriously, they just see it as an opportunity to implement their Green New Deal agenda.

Conservatives have a unique opportunity to hold them to account, secure a political victory, and pass a strong climate agenda that embraces the American energy and manufacturing that our country desperately needs.

Rachel Howard is president of the National Federation of College Republicans and a national committee member of the Louisiana Federation of College Republicans. She lives in Lafayette.

Teresa H. Sadler