Former U.S. Republican Bob Inglis said that conservatives can offer solutions to solve climate change at a panel on market-based environmental conservation Mar. 6 in Ottawa. CNS photo/Jim West

Conservatives stake claim for climate change solution

  • March 8, 2015

OTTAWA - People on both sides of the political spectrum share sentiments on protecting the environment, says a former U.S. Republican congressman, but while the left might offer “pie in the sky” solutions that don’t work, conservatives can offer solutions that “understand human nature” and “free market solutions that work.”

Conservative ideas based on a realistic knowledge of human nature and free markets provide the most efficient solutions to climate change and other environmental problems, concluded a panel entitled Market-based Environmental Conservation March 6 at the annual Manning Networking Conference here.

Bob Inglis, a former Republican congressman from South Carolina and founder of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, said conservatives “break out in hives when you talk about climate change and go into anaphylactic shock when you talk about solutions.” He admitted he was once opposed to doing anything about climate change.

“All I knew is if Al Gore was for it, I was against it.”

That has changed now and Inglis said Republicans need to get in and offer a clear solution.

“When a country decides it wants something, it will take something over nothing,” he said. If there is no free market-based solution, the “something” the public will choose will be based on regulation.

“There’s much the conservative movement needs to do on the environment,” said the panel moderator Tim Kennedy, vice president of government and aboriginal affairs for Spectra Energy. “Conservatives can have the best, most efficient and effective” ways of improving the environment using “market-based principles.”

Former Conservative cabinet minister Monte Solberg spoke of the importance of nature conservation as a conservative principle. He described growing up in Saskatchewan and Alberta, enjoying the great outdoors. One of the most “withering” things one rancher might say about another is that he is “not a good steward of the land,” he said.

“Whether one accepts or rejects the so-called consensus on climate change,” conservation has a positive impact on mitigating carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, he said.

Solberg said some sort of regime to control carbon is coming, though he acknowledged “there is little public support for any environmental policy that will jeopardize jobs.” Instead, conservatives need to “harness goodwill” by encouraging conservation, because good stewardship of the land is a great conservative principle, he said. “Conservation also has the great political virtue of being popular with everyone.”

After the panel, Kennedy, a Catholic, told CCN he is anticipating Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical on the environment.

“I look forward to the Holy Father talking more about ‘human ecology’ and further developing the Church’s teachings on the centrality of the human person in the order of Creation,” Kennedy said. “I hope that he emphasizes the great good of our call to responsibly and creatively develop the creation and the great good of work and the market system to develop our talents and gifts.”

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