The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, June 29, 2021 1:00 am

Conservative approach to climate change

New caucus pushes market-based solutions

Josh Frey

Last week, a group of 50 House Republicans, including two representatives from Indiana, Larry Bucshon and Jim Baird, formed the Conservative Climate Caucus.

This is an important step toward building a sustainable, 21st century economy that considers environmental challenges, and Bucshon and Baird deserve the gratitude of their constituents for giving Hoosiers a seat at the table in this important discussion.

This caucus believes that the climate is changing as a result of human activity and that efforts should be made to reduce carbon emissions. They depart from liberal environmentalism, however, in maintaining that the private sector can be the main driver of the change we need and large-scale government intervention is counterproductive.

This is great news for anyone concerned about the economic effects of climate action. In response to calls for massive government intervention like the Green New Deal, it can often seem like we are being forced to choose between economic freedom and environmental sustainability. Fortunately, that is not the case.

The private sector is a powerful engine of development and innovation that has shaped every aspect of our modern lives. A government-centric approach to climate change would shackle our ability to innovate and adapt to the changing energy needs of the 21st century.

By contrast, a market-based strategy could unleash the creative power of the greatest economy in history to tackle the complex environmental crisis we face.

Market-based environmentalism is not just a theory. It has already been proven to be an effective means of emission reduction. Despite Congress failing to pass the environmental legislation many liberals champion, renewable energy use has been steadily increasing and reached 20% in 2020.

As more consumers continue to demand environmentally friendly options, businesses will develop green energy solutions with speed and efficiency the federal government can only dream of.

Republicans have developed a reputation for indifference toward the environment and, although some prominent leaders have downplayed the issue, ignoring climate change is no longer a politically viable path. Studies continue to show that an overwhelming majority of young voters are concerned about the state of the environment.

If Republicans remain silent on the issue, liberal solutions will be the only ones voters will hear. Conservatives across the state should appreciate Bucshon and Baird's leadership on this issue because it is an important step toward building a compelling counterproposal to efforts to expand government in the name of the environment.

By joining this historic caucus, Bucshon and Baird are helping to position Indiana as a leader in the push for market-based environmental solutions.

Some of our state's largest industries are ideally positioned to be trailblazers in the green energy revolution, and the Conservative Climate Caucus is a promising step toward equipping business and community leaders in Indiana to develop the solutions we need.

Josh Frey, a Huntington resident, is a development intern with the American Conservation Coalition.

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