Opinion: Are Republicans entering the field to take action on climate change?

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Photo credit: thingamajiggs.

By Anders Lorenzen

Two separate climate policy proposals have been presented to the US Congress. One was first proposed by the Democratic newcomer and superstar of the Democratic Socialism movement, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC). Together with Senator Edward Markey, she unveiled The Green New Deal. It was subsequently attacked and lambasted by Republicans and conservatives alike. And this was eventually followed a counterproposal by Republican Matt Gaetz called The Green Real Deal.

Those two deals only seem to have one thing in common that is that climate change is real, that it is happening now and that it is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Other than that the deals are far apart. The Green New Deal sits at the far left, embedded in socialist ideas and even includes socialist policies which some might say are not linked to climate change.

And the Green Real Deal is at an opposite extreme, sitting at the far right looking at deregulating markets and industries, and taking a free market approach to tackling climate change which will then with time solve itself. Both AOC and Gaetz have attacked each other’s deals, as have the left and right of centre news outlets.

I have previously written about The Green New Deal, and that it risks destroying any potential bipartisanship on tackling climate change. In many ways, a far-right response to a far left climate change proposal is what could be expected. Each deal on its own is a provocation to the opposite party.

It is true that the Republican Party does not deserve any praise or for that matter claim to moral high ground for their role in tackling climate change. For years and even decades, they have not only blocked any legislation to tackle climate change but have also spread misinformation about the issue, quite often blatant climate denial and conspiracy theories. And they have done their best to tear up the little legislation that exists to cut emissions and spur investments in clean energy technologies.

But I will say that there might just be a glimmer of cautious optimism. Gaetz`s proposal shows that at least some Republicans are willing to come to the table and look at how we can tackle climate change. I actually see this as positive and perhaps the beginning of some bipartisanship. Perhaps we can even get to an end goal where a bipartisan climate bill could be co-sponsored by a Republican and a Democrat.

But to get there, it is important that both parties are willing to compromise. No party has a monopoly on tackling climate change. There’s not only one way to tackle it. There are several ways and combinations. The Democrats need to allow Republicans to come to the table and listen to their ideas without labelling them as climate deniers. Likewise, Republicans need to do the same and stop labelling their ideas as communist and socialist ideas that pander to China.

A moderate approach to tackling climate change would be one that acknowledged that, yes, the right amount of regulation plays a role, but setting the right market conditions to encourage clean energy deployment, investments, innovation as well as R&D is just as crucial.

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