By: Kiera O’Brien
Young Americans care about climate change.
With the elevation of figures like Greta Thunberg on the left, that statement likely surprises no one reading this. But what may surprise you is that much closer to home, including in Indiana, young conservatives are leading the charge as we rally behind our own policy solutions.
I speak from personal experience. I’m a 22-year-old conservative woman working on climate policy and am the founding president of Young Conservatives for Carbon Dividends, an advocacy organization that aims to renew the Republican Party’s proud legacy of environmental leadership and mobilize young conservative leaders in support of the Baker-Shultz Carbon Dividends Plan.
My role with YCCD and advocacy for this plan — named for former secretaries of State James Baker and George Shultz — are what brought me virtually to Indiana recently to speak on a panel titled “The Future of Climate Activism” as part of the Indiana University Hamilton Lugar School’s sixth annual conference on America’s Role in the World.
Indiana might seem like an unlikely place for this conversation, but that’s not the case.
U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, for instance, has stepped out on the climate issue because he understands its importance to the American way of life and economy. And the Indiana Chamber of Commerce recently released an energy report, Powering Indiana’s Economic Future, that highlighted the efficacy of carbon pricing as one of its five potential pathways to aggressive decarbonization.Your stories live here.Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.
But while my fellow panelists and I agreed on the urgency for action, we disagreed on what proposals present the most viable path forward.
Although I’m both a conservative and an environmentalist, at my core I am a pragmatist. With control of the U.S. Senate coming down to two run-off elections in Georgia, this cycle was decidedly not the blue wave of Democratic activist dreams. Two-party rule requires compromise, particularly on issues of great urgency and importance, such as climate.
And that’s why I believe the Baker-Shultz plan, which would reduce carbon emissions by a projected 57 percent by 2035, is the long-awaited solution we need.
This plan is unique in the climate discussion because it protects the environment without harming the economy, and because it’s the solution that checks all the boxes that have, until now, remained elusive.
It’s supported on the left and the right, including by student body presidents, young conservative leaders, prize-winning economists, thought leaders, energy producers and environmental organizations.
It garners this broad support because all of the revenue collected from the proposed carbon fee levied on fossil fuel companies would be returned to the American people in quarterly dividend checks that ensures the bottom-earning 80 percent come out ahead long term and get a much-needed boost in these challenging economic times.
This plan would also strengthen our manufacturers, incentivize the return of important supply chains back to the U.S. and encourage countries like China and India to do their part to reduce emissions. The tables would be turned through charging these foreign corporations for their emissions when they sell goods in the U.S.
They would face a choice: Pay their fair share and switch to clean energy, or lose a share of the U.S. market. As a result, American businesses will become more competitive and add over 1.5 million jobs, all while better defining America’s role in the world through encouraging other countries to reduce their emissions as well.
America’s role in the world could come down to Indiana’s role in America. With elected leaders like Sen. Braun, esteemed organizations such as the Chamber and grassroots champions like the College Republicans and student body presidents calling for action across the state, I remain immensely hopeful that pragmatic, workable and meaningful climate solutions are coming and that the Hoosiers I have come to know on this journey will help lead the way.
Read the full article in the Indy Star here.