The grass isn't necessarily greener on the other side.

Climate change has emerged as a top priority for the progressive Left in the last decade, but at one time, combating its effects was a fully bipartisan effort, according to one conservative expert.

Alex Flint, a former GOP Senate staffer, predicts that achieving a consensus on the now-controversial topic will be one of the "greatest challenges" for lawmakers.

"I think, at that moment, different interests, particularly those who were concerned that climate policies would affect their businesses, began to take advantage of that, and that sort of exacerbated that difference in the politics," Flint, the current executive director of the Alliance for Market Solutions, told the Washington Examiner on the Plugged In podcast.


Before left-wing politicians like former presidential candidate Al Gore and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) pushed hard for cleaner energy policies, climate change was more of a technical than a partisan platform, Flint added.

Voices on the Right seemingly began to desert the idea of carbon mitigation and other clean energy pathways when it became a political football within the GOP.

"I understand that there was this recognition that legislation wasn't going to happen. But the unfortunate effect was that the response contributed further to the political division," Flint said.

"And we're only just recovering from that," he added.

Climate change denialism may be fading, but political divisions are as strong as ever, and current policies, such as the Paris Agreement, are not delivering the desired results.

Instead, Flint said, "We have political divisions. We don't have a regulatory response to this," adding, "It's almost time for a do-over."

The private sector has increasingly stepped in to fill the void out of a desire to stabilize markets, Flint said.

"The bottom line is the climate is changing. That's going to affect the markets [and] they want to see that the company is well-positioned," he added.

But the push can't just come from the Left, said Flint, who predicted GOP candidates may eventually be cornered into vouching for greener policies if they don't get on board now. The groups advocating environmental causes are "reliably left-of-center," according to Flint, but "they can't stay that way."


While politicians have advocated multiple approaches to encourage green business initiatives, one proposal that can marry the business-friendly proclivities of the Right and the environmentalism of the Left is a carbon tax, which would prove the most effective deterrent to pollution, Flint argued.

"If we put a price on carbon, don't pay it. Do everything you can to possibly avoid it," Flint said, suggesting it's "time to stop avoiding the topic and accelerate climate actions."

"Instead of pushing off addressing climate, we move forward. … Because we should all avoid paying the carbon price," he said, adding that if carbon emissions cease, the tax won't be necessary.

Plugged In, hosted by former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Neil Chatterjee, brings on key players — from lawmakers to federal employees to industry experts — to keep our audience up to speed on the latest energy issues facing the country and the planet.

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