WHAT IS A CLIMATE CONSERVATIVE?
A climate conservative is someone who – out of concern for both current and future generations of Americans – recognizes our responsibility to safeguard the earth’s life-sustaining atmosphere, who is willing to accept science-based assessments of current threats, and who supports market-friendly policies that will effectively address those threats.
Ronald Reagan was our nation’s first climate conservative. As governor of California, he was an early advocate for strengthening our air pollution laws.
As president, Reagan pushed through an international treaty to phase out ozone depleting chemicals. That treaty, the Montreal Protocol, not only healed the earth’s ozone layer, it has taken a bite out of greenhouse gases emissions that contribute to climate change.
Reagan also signed into law the Global Climate Protection Act of 1987, which gave the EPA the lead role in developing a national policy on global climate change. That law’s stated goal was to: “identify technologies and activities to limit mankind’s adverse effect on the global climate by (A) slowing the rate of increase of concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in the near term; and (B) stabilizing or reducing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases over the long term.” Additionally, President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev entered into the bi-lateral Global Climate and Environmental Change Initiative, expanding cooperation with respect to global climate and environmental change.
President Reagan’s close friend and fellow conservative, was equally forward thinking and prudent. In the late 1980s and early 1990s the British Prime Minister sounded the alarm on climate change and called for global action to address it. In Great Briton, she also established the Hadley Centre for Climate Research.
George H. W. Bush
As the Republican nominee for president, Vice President Bush made addressing climate change part of the Republican Party Platform.
President Bush negotiated the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, where more than 150 countries made commitments to decrease greenhouse gases, prepare national action plans, and undertake much needed scientific research and monitoring.
That same year the Bush Administration established the Energy Star program, a voluntary program to promote the production and sale of more energy efficient products.
In 2003, Senator McCain (R-SC) introduced the bi-partisan Climate Stewardship Act, a market-friendly cap and trade bill similar to the successful Bush Administration approach for reducing acid rain. It failed to pass the Senate.
McCain followed that in 2005 by introducing the bi-partisan Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act. The senator re-introduced the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act in 2007. It also failed to pass the Senate. As the Republican nominee for president in 2008, McCain proposed a bold agenda to address climate change that relied heavily on expanding nuclear energy. He also made addressing climate change part of the GOP platform.
As governor of California, Schwarzenegger (R) became an internationally famous climate champion. He signed the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 into law, which required sharp reductions in statewide greenhouse gas emissions. It was the first comprehensive program in the United States designed specifically to address climate change.
During his tenure as governor, Schwarzenegger signed numerous bills and executive orders that, all total, sought to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
George W. Bush
In 2007, President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 into law, which established energy efficiency and fuel economy standards, and promoted biofuels.
In 2008, Senator John Warner (R-VA) and Joe Lieberman introduce America’s Climate Security Act. Failed to pass the Senate.
In 2009, Congressmen Bob Inglis (R-SC) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduce the Raise Wages, Cut Carbon Act, a tax swap plan that offsets a tax on carbon emissions with a payroll tax deduction. Failed to pass the House.
In 2010, Senator Lindsay Graham worked on a bi-partisan climate bill with Joe Lieberman and John Kerry, but the effort was derailed when the Obama Administration undercut their efforts.
In 2015, Congressman Chris Gibson (R-NY) introduced, along with ten fellow Republican cosponsors, a GOP climate resolution (H. Res 424) pledging to address the issue. Failed to pass House.
In 2017, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY), along with 17 fellow Republicans, reintroduced the GOP climate resolution.
In 2018, Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) introduced, along with Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), the “MARKET CHOICE Act, which would replace the federal gas tax with a price on carbon emissions. Fails to pass House.
In 2019, Congressmen Francis Rooney (R-FL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) introduced the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763), a carbon fee and dividend bill designed by former Reagan Administration cabinet members James Baker III and George P. Shultz.
Rooney also has introduced the “Stemming Warming and Augmenting Pay (SWAP) Act of 2019 (H.R. 4058),” which would price carbon emissions and direct the revenue to payroll tax reduction.
Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL), along with Rooney, introduced the Green Real Deal resolution (H. Res. 288) as a counter to the left’s Green New Deal resolution. The Gaetz resolution calls for action to “achieve robust, economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions reductions.”
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is proposing “A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy” to speed up technological advancements that help with addressing climate change.