GOP survey, support from banks moves tipping point closer for climate change action

GOP survey, support from banks moves tipping point closer for climate change action

By Stone Irvin

This week we found out 54 percent of conservative Republicans believe climate change is real, and that humans are contributing. And six major U.S. banks −Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo−warned in a letter Monday that the evidence for climate change is irrefutable, that policy and leadership must forge our new path.

The tipping point has been reached. The conversation primed.

Jay Faison, founder of ClearPath

Jay Faison, founder of ClearPath

The survey was commissioned by ClearPath Foundation, an organization dedicated to correcting the assumption that clean energy and conservatism are incompatible. Jay Faison, Managing Director of ClearPath, is dedicated finding market solutions that can sway Republicans towards outcomes both economical and ecological.

“We need — and I believe we’re developing — better answers, genuinely conservative answers that do exist in the realm of proven fact, technological finding and smart forecasting,” Faison wrote in an Op-Ed in Politico.

Survey findings that 77 percent of Republicans support accelerating clean energy so American innovation can create economic growth indicates that people are ready for clean energy outcomes.

And with banks on board a cleaner tomorrow seems almost inevitable. In their statement, the six noted that the next 15 years will see $90 trillion in investments, according to a 2014 report by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. With the right policies these investments could fund substantial projects in alternative energy.

These policies will likely include a mix of private and publically funded initiatives. Many conservatives, including Faison, like a market-based approach of incentivizing green spending and innovation. Faison supports opening up and invigorating solar and net metering, which credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid. In spending $175 million on targeted advocacy at both the state and national levels, he is setting an example of personal responsibility to stimulate others of his party to action.

Banks, on the other hand, are simultaneously a fundamental reality of the market economy and recipients of vast amounts of government money. Their open letter targeted the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly, hoping to catch some eyes ahead of the climate accord to be held in Paris this December, according to the International Business Times. They call for strong leadership to foster international climate solutions and “Expanded deployment of capital… and clear, stable and long-term policy frameworks are needed to accelerate and further scale investments.”

Those policies, despite our individual reservations one way or another, will range the spectrum of American’s policy preferences. But the news this week says we will not let the differences of opinion dissuade us in pursuit of outcomes.

While conservative and liberal camps may differ on the degree to which green initiatives are funded and developed by private and public moneys and incentives, there are several things that we can agree.

Something must be done about carbon emissions. We must create predictable carbon prices, like the revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend, to send strong signals across the economy. We must pursue incentives like Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-Ohio) Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015, alongside those like the most recent EPA regulations on smog emissions. While we have different ideas on how to save the world, we compromise and collaborate to make it greater. Compromise calls us to hold one another accountable to our outcomes rather than disagreement over means.

In their letter, the coalition of U.S. banks stated, “While we may compete in the marketplace, we are aligned on the importance of policies to address the climate challenge. In partnership with our clients and customers, we will provide the financing required for value creation and the vision necessary for a strong and prosperous economy for generations to come.”

Stone Irvin is an intern with the communications team of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Steve Valk
Steve Valk is Communications Coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby. Steve joined the CCL staff in 2009 after a 30-year career with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter at @valklimate.