The American Conservation Coalition and the ‘conservative answer to the Green New Deal’

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American Climate Coalition founder Benji Backer speaks at the Conservative Climate Rally on June 5. Backer founded the ACC in 2017. Photo Courtesy of Maxim Podhaisky

By Domenic Purdy

The American Conservation Coalition, a conservative-minded environmental advocacy group, hosted their first annual American Conservative Climate Rally on June 5 in Miami, Florida, following the release of their American Climate Contract—the “conservative answer to the Green New Deal.” 

Founded in 2017 by a group of Millennials led by activist Benji Backer, the ACC is “dedicated to mobilizing young people around environmental action through common-sense, market-based, and limited-government ideals.” 

The event highlighted Republican leadership in the field of climate activism and was co-hosted by local, state and national entities, including Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, the Florida Federation of Young Republicans, Miami Young Republicans, the Florida Federation of Republican Women, the College Republican National Committee and Maverick PAC. 

According to Courtney Hope, the event’s College Republican National Committee representative, the ACC started this annual event as an “effort to advance issues with the right-of-center community about the environment.” 

“Republicans bring a different perspective and different solutions to the table that need to be taken into account,” Hope said. “Events like this are important to create awareness and momentum around conservative solutions to environmental challenges.” 

Hope said the purpose of the conference was to create a dialogue on market-based solutions like the American Climate Contract that will work to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis.  

In 2020 the ACC released its American Climate Contract, which advocates for environmental legislation designed to promote free market solutions. 

Both the American Climate Contract and the Green New Deal promise a future with net-zero emissions while producing new jobs to achieve this transformation.  

The Green New Deal as proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Edward Markey (D-M.A.) seeks to bring U.S. emissions to net-zero by 2030, along with meeting 100% of the nation’s energy demands using renewable energy.  

The primary critique to the Green New Deal from young Republicans has been that its goals are unrealistic in its scale and economic impact.  

President Joe Biden’s administration has not adopted the Green New Deal.  

According to NPR, Biden’s plan calls for spending $100 billion on clean energy. The American Action Forum estimated the Green New Deal’s energy provisions at about $5.4 trillion, nearly three times the cost of Biden’s plan.  

While Democratic policy is generally more focused on the use of solar and wind power to reduce carbon emissions, the American Climate Contract emphasizes an expansion of nuclear power and carbon capture technologies in conjunction with a gradual shift to wind and solar as a method to transition away from greenhouse pollutants.  

They also advocate for investment in biomass, geothermal energy, hydroelectric power and other free-market environmental policies. 

According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, nuclear power is the largest source of carbon-free electricity, providing nearly 55% of the carbon-free energy in America. The American Climate Contract’s supporters support deregulatory policies on nuclear energy to make nuclear fuel a more readily available alternative to fossil fuels. 

A large part of the American Climate Contract and the conservative conservationist movement is preparing the country for climate impacts by improving infrastructure and making communities more climate resilient.  

Hope said she wants to see solutions like providing tax credits as an incentive for converting to wind and solar energy to help create a future where America is energy independent. 

She also stressed the importance of education as a key aspect in a growing awareness of climate change. 

“The more educated we all become, the better our decisions can be as individuals and the more we can hold companies to a higher standard through the demand we create in the marketplace,” Hope said.

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