It's time to allow markets to fight climate change

It's time to allow markets to fight climate change
© Getty Images

Democrats on the new House Select Committee on Climate Crisis recently released a report that follows its predecessor’s script — it ignores global emissions, increases costs and marginalizes U.S. natural resources. The last House select climate committee existed from 2007 to 2011, leaving behind one striking legacy — the unwieldy Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill. That bill would have significantly raised energy costs for American households, and would have resulted in higher emissions compared to where we are today.

The United States has led the world in cutting emissions — not through overbearing big government policies, but because we’ve avoided them. Democrats imply that America bears much of the responsibility for climate change, and that more heavy-handed government regulations, mandates, spending and taxes are our only path forward. That’s just not the case. There is more work to do, but innovation is working. By contrasting centrally-planned solutions, conservative proposals maintain our emissions-reducing leadership by unleashing innovation that can be affordably exported globally. 

Since 2005, the U.S. has cut carbon emissions considerably. During this same timeframe, China has increased its emissions. Last year, the executive director of the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), a multinational agency of developed nations, summarized America’s unprecedented results: “In the last 10 years, the emission reduction in the United States has been the largest in the history of energy.” Finally, the United States invests more in innovative technologies than anyone else. The United States is leading, and we must continue leading with the Republican-driven, innovative and market-based solutions that drove home these record cuts.  


Instead of acknowledging our accomplishments on climate, Democrats have historically praised China. In order to justify more government intervention here at home, the far left pretends the Paris Agreement alone solves climate change for the rest of the world. Doing so allows Democrats to focus solely on U.S. emissions, without regard to global impact. While perhaps well intentioned, this approach starves investment in the innovation necessary to reduce emissions outside our border — where more than 90 percent of all emissions will soon originate. This is a dangerous view. Climate change is a global challenge, and global challenges require global solutions. 

With a $93 trillion price tag, the Green New Deal smuggles in irrelevant domestic policies such as free college and a federal jobs guarantee. The House Select Committee on Climate Crisis report follows suit, including election reform and other non-core issues. These inclusions delay real action by pushing leftist policies that have nothing to do with lowering global emissions or the cost of energy. Both the Green New Deal and the committee report it inspired are used as tokens to virtue signal on climate change while attempting  to transform our economy. 

Democrats also oppose U.S. fossil energy, with no recognition of the global energy system. Global fossil fuel demand is projected to increase in the coming decades. Utilizing the cleanest sources of fossil energy should be a priority. A recent National Energy Technology Laboratory study found that Russian natural gas exports to Europe have 41 percent higher greenhouse gas emissions than U.S. liquified natural gas exports to Europe. In fact, if Europe switched from Russian natural gas to a U.S. supply, greenhouse gas emissions would decrease by 70 million tons each year.

American producers, instead of higher-emitting competitors like Russia and Iran, should meet world demand. Shutting down or inhibiting lower-emitting U.S. fossil production just strengthens our adversaries while raising global emissions. Ignoring these realities is tantamount to denying climate change. 

Democrats want the federal government, not markets, to pick winners and losers. But time and time again markets provide a path for advancing and globally deploying low-emission technologies. Unless we export low-carbon technologies that are equal in cost or cheaper than traditional alternatives, developing countries will continue deploying conventional energy because utilizing more expensive energy options would divert resources from other priorities like clean water, health care and alleviating poverty. Our policies must recognize the reality that others face.   


We must continue innovating and building upon the successful model that has led the world. But policies must result in lowering domestic emissions and creating technologies that will be adopted globally. Exporting clean, affordable and reliable technologies is the only way to lower global emissions. 

Conservative solutions utilize tools and approaches that will expand our climate leadership. Innovation — not regulations, mandates, spending and taxes — lowered energy prices and emissions in America. Let’s build on what has worked and start bending the curve globally.

Danielle Butcher is the executive vice president of the American Conservation Coalition (ACC).