Published September 11, 2018
A former congressman who is leading the movement among conservatives championing free enterprise solutions to climate change will give a talk at UB later this week as part of republicEn’s EnCourage Tour.
Bob Inglis, who represented South Carolina’s 4th congressional district for 12 years in the House of Representatives, will give a talk titled “Solving climate change with courage and conservative principles” from 6-7 p.m. Thursday in the Landmark Room (210) of the Student Union, North Campus. A Q&A will follow.
Registration is required for the free event, which is being co-sponsored by UB Sustainability and the UB chapter of Young Americans for Liberty.
“We are thrilled to host Rep. Inglis at UB for what will surely be a thought-provoking conversation around climate change,” said Ryan McPherson, UB’s chief sustainability officer. “Climate change is real, and Bob Inglis understands that. This event is about broadening the dialogue and increasing our inclusiveness to find solutions to one of the greatest challenges facing the planet.”
UB’s Young Americans for Liberty chapter is looking forward to Inglis’ visit given the timeliness of his message, said David J. Ross, the UB chapter president. He noted that President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the United Nations-backed Paris Agreement 15 months ago, a decision YAL supports “due to our opposition to the unelected bureaucracy at the UN infringing upon America’s national sovereignty in matters like environmental policy,” Ross said.
“Even better than allowing the U.S. government to write and enforce its own environmental regulations, however, would be the application of private, free market innovation to resolve issues of pollution within our borders,” Ross added. “I hope that attendees of Bob Inglis’ talk will discover the vast array of other options available to conserve our environment, other than government intervention through inevitably higher taxation.”
Thursday’s event is part of republicEn’s EnCourage Tour, a 14-city series of events this fall. republicEn is a not-for-profit organization that believes that free market solutions are the best way to solve climate change.
Inglis’ talk will center on the questions of whether American free enterprise can solve climate change and whether Conservatives can lead the country to action, as well as how citizens can get leaders to act on climate change solutions.
The event figures to be one of the more interesting talks on the UB calendar this fall. “I find it extremely refreshing that a highly regarded conservative is discussing climate change,” says Jason Briner, professor of geology in UB’s College of Arts and Sciences.
“On the one hand, it is somewhat depressing that we still need to expend energy getting people on board with looming climate and environmental issues. But on the other hand, finding an audience of open minds willing to overlook party lines to consider the facts of climate change is a nontrivial step forward,” Briner adds. “Inglis is one of the few conservative politicians willing to treat climate change as the non-political issue that it is, and we are fortunate that he’s coming to UB.”
Jacob Neiheisel, assistant professor of political science in the College of Arts and Sciences, is also looking forward to Inglis’ talk. He, too, is baffled that climate change is a political issue at all, and is hoping that attendees, regardless of their political affiliation, come with an open mind and a willingness to hear the other side.
“Reasonable people can certainly disagree about what an appropriate response to the problem should be, but the degree to which both elites and members of the mass public are divided on this point is a clear symptom of the extent to which American politics is currently polarized along partisan and ideological lines,” Neiheisel says.
He points out that Democrats have largely owned the issue of climate policy and that, in a polarized political environment, there is often a push among one party to oppose whatever the other party is proposing. “Some of the skepticism surrounding climate change among Republicans and conservatives more generally can be traced to just such an impulse,” Neiheisel explains, adding that the most common solutions proposed to solve the problem center around more taxes and regulation – policies that fly in the face of the political Right’s core beliefs.
However, Republicans and conservatives may be seeing that it’s time to embrace being part of the climate policy conversation. “It isn’t clear that outright denial is working all that well, so providing conservatives with solutions that don’t cut against their strongly-held beliefs surrounding government intervention may provide a new way forward for them if they are to remain in the conversation,” Neiheisel says.