Hunter A. Thomas: Conservative climate solutions will help preserve border security

Putting a price on carbon is a market-based approach to dealing with climate change and migration.

The mainstream environmental movement has coined the phrase “climate migrant or refugee,” warning lawmakers that an unprecedented number of migrants will leave their countries due to climate change.

Many migrants come to the U.S. for a number of factors including gang violence, financial hardship, corruption and, increasingly, environmental instability. Some groups have even predicted that there will be as many as 1 billion climate migrants displaced by the year 2050. But, how true is that number?

Julia Blocher of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said in a recent podcast with the Migration Policy Institute that the 1 billion number doesn’t have much merit and we should “have low confidence” in those projections. However, even the most modest projections, including some featured by the World Bank, estimate that 30 million to 143 million people will be displaced by the year 2050 due to a changing climate.

It is true that, too often, the number of climate migrants have been exaggerated. But as this report shows, it’s still a real problem that has the potential to undermine border security and climate-induced migration, both of which call for a conservative response. That conservative response is carbon pricing.

As a young conservative, I don’t feel well-represented by many progressive climate proposals, like the Green New Deal, which I’m afraid are big government, politically infeasible, costly solutions. On the other hand, carbon pricing is a market-based, capitalist, cost-effective solution that will simplify regulations and ensure we aren’t relying on government bureaucrats to prescribe decarbonization throughout the economy.

Carbon pricing enjoys broad conservative support, from Sen. Mitt Romney to President Trump’s former tax advisor, Art Laffer, to the oil and gas industry, to the world’s largest statement of economists. By placing a fee on fossil fuels at the source of extraction, this policy would send a powerful market signal throughout the economy, spurring broad, rapid decarbonization and the development of low-carbon technologies. Paired with a monthly dividend, all revenue generated would be given back to the American people to spend as they see fit.

Many are convinced that the only way to solve our biggest challenges is through regulation and big government. Instead, we should empower the individual consumer and corporations to make responsible decisions in terms of how they impact the environment.

Carbon pricing allows just that. Harnessing the American spirit of freedom and individual responsibility would be the most effective way to combat climate change and mitigate the growing crisis on the border.

Hunter A. Thomas

Hunter A. Thomas is a former president of Brigham Young University College Republicans and is the conservative outreach fellow for Citizens’ Climate Lobby.