Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is championing a proposal to show the GOP is serious about climate change, but climate activists are already trashing the proposal as weak and misguided. McCarthy’s proposal illustrates the trap awaiting Republican policymakers who believe they should assert there is a climate crisis while proposing alternate, watered-down solutions to the Green New Deal and other Democrat-supported proposals.
As reported by Fox News (https://www.foxnews.com/politics/gop-looks-to-counter-green-new-deal-with-climate-change-proposals), McCarthy’s plan focuses on three prongs. The first prong entails planting trees throughout the country. This is in accordance with the global Trillion Trees Initiative launched last month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The second prong calls for doubling “investment” in “clean” air research and providing tax credits for companies that export low-emissions technologies.
The third prong focuses on conservation and sending American tax dollars to countries responsible for plastic pollution.
Regarding the first prong, The Verge website is already attacking the tree-planting plan as ineffective and counterproductive (https://www.theverge.com/2020/1/31/21115862/davos-1-trillion-trees-controversy-world-economic-forum-campaign). According to a January 31 article by The Verge, “[D]ozens of scientists have warned that planting all those trees could potentially cause more harm than good. Others point to another solution with a more proven track record and that might be more deserving of global support — empowering the people who live in and safeguard forests already.”
“Tree-planting started really trending in 2019, when a study published in the journal Science caused a commotion,” the article asserted. “It claimed that planting a trillion trees could capture more than a third of all the greenhouse gases humans have released since the industrial revolution. After the initial media blitz rallied excitement for the seemingly simple climate solution, a group of 46 scientists, including [Forrest Fleischman, who teaches natural resources policy at the University of Minnesota], responded to the study with their critique.”
The article continued, “‘Headlines around the world declared tree planting to be the best solution to climate change,’ lead author of the critique Joseph Veldman said in a statement at the time. ‘We now know those headlines were wrong.’ Veldman argued that planting trees where they don’t belong can harm ecosystems, make wildfires worse, and even exacerbate global warming. His critique made the case that the amount of carbon the study said 1 trillion trees could sequester was about five times too large. The study also considered planting trees on savannas and grasslands, where planting non-native trees could cause problems for local species. Planting trees on snowy terrain that once reflected the sun could even turn those places into dark patches that actually absorb heat.”
Other websites allied with the Environmental Left have also been critical of climate plans focused on planting trees. A Vice article is titled, “Planting ‘Billions of Trees’ Isn’t Going to Stop Climate Change” (https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/7xgymg/planting-billions-of-trees-isnt-going-to-stop-climate-change). “Trying to Plant a Trillion Trees Won’t Solve Anything,” claims a Wired headline (https://www.wired.com/story/trees-regenerative-agriculture-climate-change/). “Republicans’ Climate Change Plan Is Big Oil’s Climate Change Plan,” claims a New Republic headline (https://newrepublic.com/article/156269/republicans-climate-change-plan-big-oils-climate-change-plan).
GOP climate appeasers put themselves in a political box with no escape route. After publicly supporting speculative, dubious assertions of a climate crisis, they are accused by the Climate Establishment of proposing half-baked measures that do little to mitigate rising temperatures. And once they have stated that climate change is a serious problem – indeed a crisisj – they will be boxed into supporting virtually anything the Environmental Left proposes. After all, if the GOP joins alarmists asserting climate change is an existential crisis that is the greatest-ever threat to human civilization, the public will demand the most immediate and far-reaching responses. There is no proposal too far-reaching if we are facing a climate apocalypse, and Republicans will be politically destroyed for proposing anything less.
Ultimately, Republicans should stand true to the science, which provides overwhelming evidence that we are not facing a climate crisis.
It is also worth noting how McCarthy’s other two areas of focus completely sell out conservative principles and the Republican Party base.
Regarding McCarthy’s second prong, the federal government already gives more source-specific taxpayer subsidies to wind power than all conventional energy sources combined (see Table 3 and 4 at https://www.eia.gov/analysis/requests/subsidy/pdf/subsidy.pdf). The federal government does the same for solar power. How is raising taxes to double subsidies to already heavily subsidized wind and solar power a conservative idea?
Regarding McCarthy’s third prong, China is the country most responsible for plastic pollution, especially in the world’s oceans (https://www.plasticethics.com/home/2019/3/17/the-countries-polluting-the-oceans-the-most-with-plastic-waste). So the GOP’s climate change solution is to raise taxes again to send billions and billions of dollars to China to reward them for their plastic pollution? And how does cleaning up China’s plastic pollution have any impact on global temperatures?