By Christine Todd Whitman
New Jersey Opinion
October 1, 2018

During my time as both governor of New Jersey and administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, I knew that I’d be judged by my actions. All the speeches and public appearances in the world won’t convince people you’ve done your job unless you produce results.

That’s how we need to judge our elected officials when it comes to climate change.

Because climate change has become needlessly partisan, I am always heartened when a fellow Republican recognizes the seriousness of the issue. More elected Republicans are now publicly acknowledging the truth: climate change is real and humans are the leading cause of it.

However, too many Republican elected officials who know better — even those who have publicly recognized the problem of climate change – are still refusing to go beyond words. The Climate Solutions Caucus in Congress has 44 Republican members, but the vast majority of them continue to vote against real solutions or in support of measures damaging to our environment and health. A recent vote brought before the House of Representatives saw Republicans overwhelmingly reject the idea of making major industries pay for the dangerous pollution they emit in our air. Most frustratingly, these same members have offered no suggestions of their own.

Like most Republicans, I am a firm believer in free market solutions. And hearteningly, there are a small number of Republicans bringing market-based approaches to address climate change. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida did just that when he introduced a bill over the summer calling for a price on carbon pollution that would bring about infrastructure investment, regulatory stability, and tax reforms based on conservative, free market principals. But unfortunately plans like Curbelo’s have been the exception, and not the rule.

I am not saying that conservatives should simply adopt the policies of Democrats on climate change. Republicans can stand for a clean environment and market principles. But we can’t stand on the sidelines. We must enter this debate with our own ideas, and push for policies that cut the pollution intensifying havoc across our country and world. And token cuts are not enough, we must reduce emissions and move toward clean energy as fast as the science of climate change demands.

It’s time to hold the Republican party to higher standard, which means real solutions, not just words.

Anyone who cares about leaving a better world for their children and grandchildren — and that is all of us — should contact their members of Congress and ask them for their plan to cut climate pollution. Don’t accept encouraging words, but instead demand real plans that meet important climate goals. The time for statements and press clips alone has long passed. Joining coalitions is not enough. We need action.

And to my fellow Republicans who are in the Congress, we must do better. Our party has a great history of environmental protection. Let’s reclaim that.