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New Conservative Climate Plans: A Closer Look

This article was first published on February 5 and has been lightly updated. In Washington, DC, a convenient story is making the rounds about Republicans and climate policy. According to this narrative, after years of...

This article was first published on February 5 and has been lightly updated.

In Washington, DC, a convenient story is making the rounds about Republicans and climate policy. According to this narrative, after years of denying climate science, Republicans are now developing policies to address climate change. These policies are said to align with conservative ideals, focusing on markets, reducing the federal government's role, and avoiding picking winners and losers. The idea is that voters will have a choice between two different approaches to solving the climate crisis.

But is this story really accurate? Let's dive deeper and see if these new conservative climate plans hold up to scrutiny.

Not Conservative, Not Serious Climate Policy

While it's true that Republicans are feeling pressure to change their public stance on climate change, the overlap between conservative ideals and serious climate policy is slim. The newly revealed Republican climate push includes three main components: capturing carbon dioxide emissions (with a focus on trees), clean-energy innovation and funding, and conservation (with a focus on plastic).

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) strongly advocating for appearing to be doing something about climate change. (Image source: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

These measures are certainly important, but when it comes to addressing climate change as a whole, they fall short. The plan ignores crucial elements such as solar and wind power, electric vehicles, efficient buildings, and hydrogen as viable alternatives to fossil fuels. Instead, it focuses on appeasing fossil fuel companies and protecting their interests.

The Problem with the Free Market Rhetoric

Media reports on Republicans' climate shift often use the term "free market" to describe GOP policies, but this characterization is misleading. True free-market principles advocate for reduced government involvement in markets, allowing market actors to make decisions rather than bureaucrats. However, the Republican climate plan does not align with these principles.

Milton Friedman Economist Milton Friedman received the Presidential Medal of Honor from Ronald Reagan in appreciation for his contributions to oligarchy. (Image source: Wikipedia)

Conservatives have redefined "free market" and "limited government" to fit their own agenda. They support government subsidies, tax credits, and grants that benefit big corporations while opposing regulations that might impede the operations of greenhouse gas-emitting industries. This approach, based on carrots for favored industries, does not reflect economic conservatism, limiting the government's role in markets, or avoiding picking winners and losers.

The Limits of the Republican Climate Plan

While the new conservative climate plans may hold together parts of the Republican coalition, they fail to meaningfully address climate change. Carbon capture is an essential component of emission reduction efforts, but it cannot be the sole solution. Without substantial reductions in fossil fuel use, carbon capture alone is insufficient to meet emission reduction targets.

Current Republican efforts aim to protect and support fossil fuels rather than confront the reality of the climate crisis. While these plans may generate some media coverage, they are far from a viable or sincere attempt at addressing climate change.

In the end, the Republican climate plans are neither truly conservative nor effective climate policy. As one Trump administration official put it, these plans are "messaging bills" aimed at the next election, rather than a genuine commitment to combating climate change. The truth is that climate change requires bold action and a comprehensive approach, not just empty rhetoric and half-hearted measures.

So, let's not be fooled by the convenient story circulating in Washington, DC. It's time for all parties to prioritize real solutions and work together to address the urgent challenges of climate change.

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