Far-left progressives have tried to maintain a monopoly on the debate around climate policy, pushing high taxes, heavy regulation, and central planning. But in recent years, the GOP has taken a greater leadership role on the environment, favoring smart policy that promotes free enterprise, secures the U.S. energy interests, rewards innovation, and incentivizes good climate practices.

A sweeping new study, Free Economies are Clean Economies, released yesterday by the Conservative Coalition for Climate Solutions calls into question the climate policy orthodoxy espoused by progressives that relies on the heavy hand of regulation, higher taxes, central planning, and eliminating entire industries that are critical to the prosperity of our nation. The report confirms that, to tackle climate change, relying on markets and innovation is the more promising approach. 

The report analyzes data from countries around the world, focusing on a number of factors related to environmental health, including the quality of air and drinking water, ecosystem vitality, pollution emissions, and more. In every instance, free and prosperous economies were doing the most to tackle climate challenges and they were doing so by investing in innovation, allowing free enterprise to flourish, promoting smart energy practices, and letting the market work.

And conservatives are rising to the challenge this week, rolling out an Energy Innovation Agenda in the U.S. House of Representatives and highlighting dozens of bills and solutions to deliver a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment. 

The timing of the House Republicans agenda and the Conservative Coalition for Climate Solutions report is critical as the Democrat-controlled Congress debates Biden’s $2 trillion so-called infrastructure package, which aims to remake the American economy in the image of the far-left progressive Green New Deal. On top of that, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) is introducing her actual Green New Deal legislation. Both the Biden plan and the Green New Deal consist of massive government regulations, more taxes, and policies aimed at killing off entire sectors of the U.S. economy in a misguided effort claiming to reduce greenhouse emissions.  

Among the key findings of the Free Economies are Clean Economies report are:

  • Data from 155 countries over five-year periods from 1975-2015 indicate higher levels of economic freedom reduce overall CO2 emissions.
  • Countries with less regulatory restrictions have higher rates of companies investing in new, more sustainable technologies that will reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
  • Economic growth and environmental progress are not mutually exclusive. In fact, economic growth correlates strongly with strong environmental outcomes. (2020 Environmental Protection Agency inventory on greenhouse gas emissions reported that, “since 2005, national greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 10%, and power sector emissions have fallen by 27%—even as our economy grew by 25%).
  • Free markets are driving investment in clean, sustainable, more efficient technologies and resilient infrastructure globally at a far faster pace than their less free counterparts.
  • There’s a strong correlation between GDP per capita and a higher environmental score, with wealthy democracies having the most consistently high environmental rankings.

Safeguarding U.S. energy interests requires investing intelligently in clean energy and taking an all of the above approach to our energy sector. Conservatives recognize that to maintain a competitive advantage over China, now is the time to invest in next generation energy solutions such as small modular reactors for nuclear power and carbon capture and storage, while also allowing traditional energy industries to adapt to smarter environmental practices.

Growing populations around the world will use more energy and produce more carbon dioxide emissions. Given that there isn’t a workable tax or regulatory tool to influence other countries’ emissions, America’ approach to climate change should focus on developing and building clean, affordable, and exportable technologies, which improve our environment without sacrificing jobs and economic growth.