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CROWDSOURCING SUSTAINABILITY

Alex Posner and Kiera O’Brien

College Republicans Taking a Stand on Climate Change

Kiera O'brien S4CDAlex Posner S4CD

Alex and Kiera currently attend Yale and Harvard respectively. They are leaders of a Republican-led, bipartisan group called Students for Carbon Dividends. The organization launched last year after Alex learned of an effective climate solution that was politically viable for Republicans.

S4CD is the first group of college Republicans to publicly back a national policy to solve climate change. They recognize that “today’s GOP forces its members to make a false choice between party and planet, to the detriment of both.” S4CD is spreading their message to Republicans on campuses across the US:

“We no longer need to choose between party orthodoxy and the mounting risks facing our planet.” They know climate change is not a partisan issue and that there is a way for Republicans to help solve it.

S4CD backs the “Baker-Shultz” plan which is politically viable for Republicans because it is a market-based solution – in fact, the plan has gotten Republican support on capitol hill behind closed doors. It is very similar to Citizen Climate Lobby’s plan, which I’ve mentioned before, in that it puts a fee on carbon, disincentivizes its use, and then redistributes the revenue back to the public so that it is not a tax.

Economists have continually told us that carbon pricing is the most effective thing we could do. It’s simple, reduces GHG emissions, and will do a whole lot of good for society.

So far, the biggest hurdle for Alex and Kiera has been education since there is still a big gap between what experts agree on and what the public thinks. Not many people know about this viable, market-based solution yet. However, Kiera says they have gotten overwhelmingly positive reactions from Republicans of all ages once the idea is understood. People are super appreciative to discover a climate solution aligned with their beliefs and she often hears “this is what I’ve been missing.”

S4CD understands that reversing climate change protects our shared environment and mitigates risk. They also know that it goes hand in hand with promoting jobs, economic growth, and prosperity.

If they had a billboard for millions to see, Kiera and Alex would not put a polar bear or glacier on it (even though Kiera’s from Alaska), but instead, show the human consequences of climate change. They’d demonstrate that this isn’t about self-sacrifice, but rather, self-interest. Not a message of limiting or constraining, but one of hope: our problem is not only fixable but doing so will unleash the power of American innovation. It’s an opportunity for us to step forward as a country.

If you are in college or know someone who is that may be interested in S4CD, pass this along so they can learn more! You can find S4CD on TwitterFacebook, or their website.

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This post originally featured as a section of the What on EARTH?! sustainability newsletter.

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