A conservative, millennial approach to climate change

Heat-trapping carbon pollution from industrial plants is a major cause of global warming
Heat-trapping carbon pollution from industrial plants is a major cause of global warming Observer file photo

One year ago, the U.S. announced its intention to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, taking the champion of the free-market out of the global communities solution to addressing climate change.

The Trump Administration has taken an eraser to the words “climate change” from federal agency strategic plans, including the one guiding the Federal Emergency Management Agency over the next four years.

As a Republican it pains me to say that the current administration is going in the wrong direction, even when we as a party and a nation hold all the right cards to leading the fight against climate change.

The absence of U.S. leadership is frustrating particularly to Millennials and Generation Z, as we understand climate change is happening and recognize we’ll have to pay for and suffer the consequences of inaction. One of the problems is the conversations around climate change tend toward left versus right, action versus inaction, believers versus deniers. Also stale, the solutions on the table default toward big government, rapid renewable integration ideas that may not be realistic yet have been passed around for decades. Yes, we need renewables— they are the future—but how can we integrate renewable energy while transitioning away from fossil fuels without creating too negative an impact on communities that rely on fossil fuel production?

Some of these issues were on the table at the UN over the winter, when I had an opportunity to travel there with a delegation from Seton Hall University for annual United Nations Association Members day. One point that struck me was the resounding youth support for big government and multi-trillion dollar solutions to climate change. This is where the youth in the conservative movement can play a real impact on the climate solutions debate. Our generations clearly support policies that combat climate change, but we can also ensure advancements in technology don’t leave millions of people behind. Organizations such as RepublicEN, which advocates for free-market based solutions to climate change have the right idea: put a price on carbon, ensure the revenues remain neutral (i.e. don’t grow the government but instead are used to offset a tax cut or provide a dividend to citizens) and watch innovation soar. Utilizing both the technologies of the past and innovations of the future is the best way forward.

If we are to learn anything from massive government assistance programs it’s that throwing money at an issue does not usually solve it. To address the issues of climate change and energy use are going to take a global effort and one the US has to be a part of. However, solutions for climate change can be brought about through free market solutions and through the innovations of concerned individuals. Action needs to be taken by innovators in the private sector and be supported by elected officials so that we can develop practical solutions for climate change. This is the best way for the world to address climate change because it will create the greatest global effort through innovative ideas and public policy.

Abel, from Concord, is a student at Seton Hall.