The attention surrounding the Green New Deal rollout last week seemed to underscore the entrenched partisanship of addressing climate change: progressive Democrats demanded a quick drawdown from fossil fuels while top Republicans, including President Trump, dismissed their plan as a “socialist” joke.
But behind the scenes, conservative energy policy experts say that, perhaps counterintuitively, the Green New Deal actually offers a new opportunity for Republicans to present their own solutions to climate change.
By shifting the conversation to the left, the Green New Deal has given conservative lawmakers an opening to present centrist policy proposals without looking like they are giving Democrats a political win. At the same time, progressive rhetoric surrounding the issue has contributed to a sense of urgency in the public dialogue, encouraging influential corporate lobbyists, who support moderate solutions to address climate change but want to avoid policies that include heavy regulations, to act proactively. Ultimately, Congressional Republicans’ reaction to the Green New Deal may offer a glimmer of hope that a legislative climate solution will pass a divided Congress in coming years.
“The Green New Deal gives Republicans and conservatives space so that they can maneuver and pivot, so that they can point to a solution that they can support,” says former Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Republican who has led efforts for a carbon tax.
That maneuvering may be necessary for the political survival of at least some Republicans. Nearly 3 in 4 Americans, including a majority of Republicans, now agree that climate change is happening, according to a December poll from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. “This is an opportunity to articulate a vision,” says Heather Reams, executive director of Citizens For Responsible Energy Solutions.
The policy solution that could actually make a dent in U.S. carbon emissions while earning Republican support is some version of a carbon tax, which would require major companies to pay to emit carbon dioxide. The government could then use that new revenue stream to fund anything from infrastructure projects to new tax cuts.
While broad-based Republican support for such a proposal has been slow to build, the idea has won the endorsement of both leading conservative economists and large corporations, many of which have powerful constituencies in Congress. Both ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips have lobbied in favor of a proposed carbon tax known as the Baker-Shultz plan, after former GOP Secretaries of State James Baker and George Shultz. …read more
Source:: Time – Politics