Jeremy Jones: An Open Letter to Republicans on Climate Change

“Work with me to convince the White House and Congress to make America a global leader in the renewable energy economy and unleash American entrepreneurialism that creates the good-paying jobs of the future.”

Dear Republican Voters:

We need to talk. I’m a professional snowboarder, and during a 25-year career I’ve seen first-hand how winters have changed, how they’ve gotten warmer and inconsistent. For example, in the last thirty years, the northern hemisphere has lost a million square miles of spring snowpack and every year has been warmer than average since 1976. There has not been a colder than average year globally since I was a year old.

I know these changes worry you, too. “Sunny-day” flooding is a normal event now in Florida, sending sea water pouring into streets and homes at high tide, and a chunk of ice nearly the size of Delaware could break away from Greenland at any time. These are all glimpses into the future. Yeah, I know that the leaders of your party say climate change is a hoax, a global conspiracy, that it’s natural cycles, etc. We both know that’s not true. The science proves it and polls show that Americans overwhelmingly think climate change is a problem that the government needs to address.

Despite this loud cry for action, the GOP leadership, the people sworn to serve your best interests, are ignoring you and trying to kill the modest progress America has made in moving toward a cleaner and more prosperous economy. A new study shows that killing the Clean Power Plan, as President Trump and congressional Republicans are trying to do, will cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars and cause more than 100,000 premature deaths due to air pollution.

Republican leaders want to kill these efforts because they’ve put ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy and other fossil fuel companies before your best interests. That’s called crony capitalism, and it’s a complete affront to the free market principles. The GOP is the only major political party in the world that rejects climate science. Right-wing parties throughout Europe get it. As does China, who just closed 104 coal-fired power plants and intends to spend more than $360 billion on renewable energy through 2020, creating 13 million new jobs.

And recently, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said that “CO2 isn’t a primary contributor to global warming.” Let’s be real, Scott Pruitt knows better, but it’s not about him. It’s about the GOP’s continued commitment to the fossil fuel industry, refusing to accept the authority of climate science and block any future climate policy.

There was a time in American history when Republicans championed science and worked with Democrats to achieve some of our country’s greatest conservation and environmental victories. Millions of acres set aside for public lands, iconic national parks, the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, the EPA and the Wilderness Act were all bipartisan legislative wins that cleaned up our air and water, saved lives and preserved our most beautiful landscapes. These initiatives have been engines of economic prosperity. Our national parks are the envy of the world. When you stand on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, you are awed just like I am.

Let’s be straight: I’m not a Democrat. I’m not a Republican either. I’m a concerned American, a husband, a father, a small businessman and a job creator. I hate taxes, too. I want smart and lean and effective government. I would be happy to support the Republican Party one day, but today, on some of the most important issues of our time – climate change, the environment, our children’s future – the Republican Party has gone off the rails.

So, ok, our leaders don’t believe in climate science, but what about job creation and energy independence?  We all want the same results, it’s just a matter of how we get there.

Working together, we can do better. The solution to American job losses, economic stagnation and climate change is a rapid deployment of renewable energies. Rebuilding our aging and decrepit utility grid and powering it with green energy would revitalize our economy for the coming century like the construction of our interstate highway system did in the last century. Generating wind and solar power is now as cheap or cheaper than producing fossil fuel power. And you can’t outsource rooftop solar panel installations.

This transition to renewables is already happening despite GOP opposition – and despite ten times the amount of government subsidies – corporate welfare – for fossil fuels. The technology exists to solve this, and today, clean energy jobs exceed the number of jobs in oil, gas and coal development.

Let’s put our foot on the accelerator by using good old-fashioned conservative Republican free market principles. A group of prominent Republicans recently announced a plan that represents a smart path forward. “The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends” would require polluters to pay to dump their greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. You don’t get to dump your garbage for free. Why should they? Revenues collected from these so-called carbon fee and dividend plans would be returned to citizens in the form of tax relief. This is common sense tax reform that would both lower pollution and offset other despised taxes, while also stimulating renewable energy creation.

Work with me to convince the White House and Congress to make America a global leader in the renewable energy economy and unleash American entrepreneurialism that creates the good-paying jobs of the future. Jobs designing, manufacturing and installing the batteries and electric vehicles and solar panels and energy saving devices. Let’s harness the muscle and know-how of laid-off miners and wildcatters and put them to work erecting wind turbines and building a smart electric grid.

The only thing standing in our way is Republican leadership. Climate change should not be a partisan issue. We have a mid-term election in 2018, with the opportunity to remove congressional officeholders who are stalling progress on climate.  I urge Republican voters to tell their candidates to get to work—or get out. The only hope for our climate, our future, is citizenship, and elected leaders who put principle before party.

Bio: Jeremy Jones is a professional snowboarder and founder of the climate action nonprofit Protect Our Winters. He lives in Truckee, Calif., with his wife and two children.

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