The Case for Green Conservatism
By Newt Gingrich Posted in Policy — Comments (119) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
The movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose and method. - President Theodore Roosevelt
[There is an] absolute necessity of waging all-out war against the debauching of the environment. - Governor Ronald Reagan, First Earth Day, 1970
First, I’d like to thank the Redstate community for providing a forum not just for me, but for any citizen with an idea they want to share. I believe America is facing a slate of challenges that, taken together, are as formidable as any our country has faced since the civil war. We need every American helping develop a generation of American Solutions to meet those challenges. Communities like Redstate will be an integral part of inspiring and channeling the creative energy of the country. This note is the first of many I intend to post here. Think of it as a note between colleagues intended to promote discussion and debate.
Today I want to emphasize the need to develop a “green conservatism”. I would like to elicit feedback that I will use to inform my speech tonight at EcoVision 2007, which will be webcast LIVE at www.AmericanSolutions.com starting at 7pm. I will be speaking around 8pm ET. I will also use later comments to help develop a speech for the Pennsylvania Conservative Conference in Harrisburg this coming Saturday.
Read on . . .
I believe we are seeing the beginning of a three-way split in American politics. The three groups are: the left wing machine; the “stand pat” Republicans; and the supporters of “American Solutions.” I’ve written about this split before in my weekly newsletter. It applies across many issues but for now, let’s focus on the environment.
The Left Wing Machine. The first group is those on the left who believe that only big government, big litigation, high taxes, and big regulation are appropriate answers for our environmental challenges.
The “Stand Pat” Republicans. The second group is those on the right who have grown so weary of the left using the environment as an emotional tool to push higher taxes and bigger government that they reflexively ignore or deny environmental challenges.
American Solutions. The third group – the group that I believe is the future of the American conservative movement, and indeed the future of American politics – are those who favor a “green conservatism” - an optimistic, positive, science and technology based, entrepreneurial, market-oriented, incentive-led, conservative environmentalism that creates more solutions faster and that will result in more biodiversity with less pollution and a safer planet.
As conservatives, we cannot trap ourselves into being “Stand Pat” Republicans. If the 2006 election taught us anything, it is that “Stand Pat” Republicans are no match for the left wing machine. This is as true for our environmental challenges as any other issue. In the absence of a clearly articulated “green conservatism,” the left wing machine will win.
Aside from the political ramifications, there is also the moral imperative of creating a future in which children in America and, indeed, all over the world, enjoy a much higher standard of living through a more vibrant economy and cleaner environments with greater biodiversity.
An American Solutions approach will develop a “green conservatism.”
1. Green conservatism favors clean air and clean water.
2. Green conservatism favors maximum biodiversity as a positive good.
3. Green conservatism favors minimizing carbon loading in the atmosphere as a positive public value.
4. Green conservatism is pro-science, pro-technology, and pro-innovation.
5. Green conservatism believes that green prosperity and green development are integral to the successful future of the human race.
6. Green conservatism believes that economic growth and environmental health are compatible in both the developed and developing world.
7. Green conservatism believes that we can realize more positive environmental outcomes faster by shifting tax code incentives and shifting market behavior than is possible from litigation and regulation.
As a key part of green prosperity and green development, there has to be a green energy strategy which is designed to enable the human race to make the transition from historic fossil fuels which dramatically improved the quality of life over the pre-industrial period to a new clean generation of energy which will: enable us in national security terms to be liberated from dependence on dangerous dictatorships; enable us in economic terms to be effective in worldwide competition; and enable us in environmental terms to provide for a much cleaner and healthier future.
Reliable, affordable energy is indispensable to economic growth around the planet, and economic growth is essential to a healthier environment. In so many ways both here and abroad, we truly achieve “green through growth”.
A Green Conservatism Is Dedicated to Developing a “Generation of Solutions” -- Powered by the Sheer Scale of Scientific Change and the Application of the Principles of Free Enterprise That Work – To Meet the Environmental Challenges of our Generation
Green Conservatism has fundamentally different characteristics than Green Bureaucracy and Litigation.
Focus on market<------------>Focus on command and control
Focus on tax code as an incentives tool<------>Focus on litigation as a coersion tool
Focus on scientists<------------>Focus on the trial lawyers
Meeting the requirements of a higher standard of living across the planet that minimizes environmental stresses and maximizes biodiversity requires fundamentally different strategies. These include replacing process with prizes in our scientific research investments and developing a system of carbon reduction tax credits powerful enough to make it a financially appealing for companies to switch to green technologies.
We must also insist that scientific data and facts be the foundation of public policy development. We need to develop a transparent system that aggregates all the environmental data being gathered worldwide into a single data set that is available to everyone. Arguments about analysis and scientific dissent should be encouraged in the pursuit of thorough analytical understanding of the complexities of our environmental system.
I will be discussing these themes and laying out specifics over the coming months, starting tonight at EcoVision 2007, an event being held this week in Washington, DC. You can watch the event LIVE tonight from your computer at www.americansolutions.com starting at 7pm ET. I will speak around 8pm.
Throughout the day my staff will be emailing your feedback to this note which I’ll use to inform my address tonight. I will also respond to some when I can, which will be posted here. I look forward to engaging in this dialogue with you to further develop green conservatism as well as American Solutions for all America’s challenges.