By increasing our American energy supply and decreasing the long term demand for oil, we will be well positioned to address the challenge of climate change and continue our longstanding responsibility for stewardship over the environment.
The same human economic activity that has brought freedom and opportunity to billions has also increased the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. While the scope and long-term consequences of this are the subject of ongoing scientific research, common sense dictates that the United States should take measured and reasonable steps today to reduce any impact on the environment. Those steps, if consistent with our global competitiveness will also be good for our national security, our energy independence, and our economy. Any policies should be global in nature, based on sound science and technology, and should not harm the economy.
The Solution: Technology and the Market
As part of a global climate change strategy, Republicans support technology-driven, market-based solutions that will decrease emissions, reduce excess greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, increase energy efficiency, mitigate the impact of climate change where it occurs, and maximize any ancillary benefits climate change might offer for the economy.
To reduce emissions in the short run, we will rely upon the power of new technologies, as discussed above, especially zero-emission energy sources such as nuclear and other alternate power sources. But innovation must not be hamstrung by Washington bickering, regulatory briar patches, or obstructionist lawsuits. Empowering Washington will only lead to unintended consequences and unimagined economic and environmental pain; instead, we must unleash the power of scientific know-how and competitive markets.
Because the issue of climate change is global, it must become a truly global concern as well. All developed and developing economies, particularly India and China, can make significant contributions in dealing with the matter. It would be unrealistic and counterproductive to expect the U.S. to carry burdens which are more appropriately shared by all.
Using Cash Rewards to Encourage Innovation
Because Republicans believe that solutions to the risk of global climate change will be found in the ingenuity of the American people, we propose a Climate Prize for scientists who solve the challenges of climate change. Honoraria of many millions of dollars would be a small price for technological developments that eliminate our need for gas-powered cars or abate atmospheric carbon.
Doing No Harm
Republicans caution against the doomsday climate change scenarios peddled by the aficionados of centralized command-and-control government. We can – and should– address the risk of climate change based on sound science without succumbing to the no-growth radicalism that treats climate questions as dogma rather than as situations to be managed responsibly.
A robust economy will be essential to dealing with the risk of climate change, and we will insist on reasonable policies that do not force Americans to sacrifice their way of life or trim their hopes and dreams for their children. This perspective serves not only the people of the United States but also the world’s poorest peoples, who would suffer terribly if climate change is severe – just as they would if the world economy itself were to be crippled. We must not allow either outcome.
The Republican perspective on the environment is in keeping with our longstanding appreciation for nature and gratitude for the bounty the Almighty has bestowed upon the American people. It was Republican President Theodore Roosevelt who said, “The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem, it will avail us little to solve all others.” We agree. Whether through family vacations, hunting or fishing trips, backpacking excursions, or weekend hikes, Americans of all backgrounds share a commitment to protecting the environment and the opportunities it offers. In addition, the public should have access to public lands for recreational activities such as hunting, hiking, and fishing.
In caring for the land and water, private ownership has been the best guarantee of conscientious stewardship, while the world’s worst instances of environmental degradation have occurred under governmental control. By the same token, it is no accident that the most economically advanced countries also have the strongest environmental protections.
Our national progress toward cleaner air and water has been a major accomplishment of the American people. By balancing environmental goals with economic growth and job creation, our diverse economy has made possible the investment needed to safeguard natural resources, protect endangered species, and create healthier living conditions. State and local initiatives to clean up contaminated sites – brownfields – have exceeded efforts directed by Washington. That progress can continue if grounded in sound science, long-term planning, and a multi-use approach to resources.
Government at all levels should protect private property rights by cooperating with landowners’ efforts and providing incentives to protect fragile environments, endangered species, and maintain the natural beauty of America. Republican leadership has led to the rejuvenation and renewal of our National Park system. Future expansion of that system, as well as designation of National Wilderness areas or Historic Districts, should be undertaken only with the active participation and consent of relevant state and local governments and private property owners.