« View All Blog Posts

A Republican Case for Action on Climate
By Robyn Taylor Knapp

We cannot ignore climate change any longer. The facts are clear: The earth is getting warmer, the sea levels are rising, and the Arctic Sea ice is melting years faster than projected. Scientific evidence of further climate destabilization seemingly grows stronger every day. President Obama’s June climate action plan is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough. It’s time to put political affiliations aside so our nation can act on substantive steps to curb climate change.

Carbon pollution is the biggest driver of climate change with carbon dioxide (CO2) taking up a whopping 84% of all U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. A market-based approach, a carbon tax for example, would likely be the best option for tackling climate change and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, but that radical (progressive) ideal is unachievable in the politically gridlocked halls of Congress.

However, the President’s climate plan includes achievable actions that could produce meaningful results. What a surprise to read a New York Times opinion piece written by four former administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Republican presidents who applaud President Obama’s plan. “He will use his executive powers to require reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the nation’s power plants and spur increased investment in clean energy technology, which is inarguably the path we must follow to ensure a strong economy along with a livable climate.”

Under Presidents Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and George W. Bush, EPA administrators William D. Ruckelshaus, Lee M. Thomas, William K. Reilly, and Christine Todd Whitman “held fast to common-sense conservative principles—protecting the health of the American people, working with the best technology available, and trusting in the innovation of American business and in the market to find the best solutions for the least cost.” But now, they write, more must be done, and fast.

“The United States led the world when nations came together to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals,” the four former EPA administrators write. “Acid rain diminishes each year, thanks to a pioneering, market-based emissions-trading system adopted under the first President Bush in 1990. And despite critic’s warnings, our economy has continued to grow.”

The United States must lead through international diplomacy and domestic actions to reduce emissions and transition to safer and more sustainable options. The only uncertainty about our warming earth is how bad the changes will be, and how soon. What is certain is that both political parties must come together in order to have a solid economy and a livable climate.

Posted: August 13, 2013