Guest opinion: GOP should follow Sen. Romney’s leadership on climate

In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune editorial board recently, Sen. Mitt Romney shared his views on climate change and on the Baker-Shultz Carbon Dividends plan, a bipartisan climate policy proposal with strong support from conservative leaders nationally, including College Republican federation chairs, the entire governing board of Utah Young Republicans, and many of our predecessors, who voiced their support in the Tribune in 2020. As the current chapter chairs of College Republicans at Weber State University, the University of Utah, Utah Valley University, and Brigham Young University, we wish to thank Senator Romney for his remarks and his willingness to publicly discuss the issue of climate and the carbon dividends plan specifically. 

We are encouraged by the courage of Sen. Romney and other community and business leaders from the Beehive State who have taken the lead on climate change, an issue that is important to Utahns, especially those of our age group. Climate action is a top priority for students and young professionals because we know the climate is changing and we understand the potential costs of climate instability. We are the generation that will live to see the effects of a warming climate on our home state. 

Those of us native to Utah grew up skiing the greatest snow on earth, hiking the Wasatch mountains, backpacking in the Uintas, visiting national parks like Zion and Arches, and boating on Utah’s pristine lakes and reservoirs like Flaming Gorge and Lake Powell. These places have been the setting for some of our most precious family memories, and we want to preserve them for ourselves and future generations.  If the Republican Party wishes to remain relevant to our generation, it must address this issue.

Carbon dividends is a solution that utilizes a carbon price to harness the power of American innovation. It then returns all revenue to American families in the form of quarterly dividend checks.  Baker-Shultz couples a carbon dividend program with a border adjustment, giving US businesses a competitive advantage in US markets and incentivizing other countries to lower emissions. It also rolls back Obama-era regulations which have proved inefficient for the environment and burdensome for the economy.

As Senator Romney explained in his interview with the Tribune, this plan has the potential to inspire real breakthroughs in clean energy. We need to develop cleaner technologies that are cheaper than their higher-polluting counterparts so that we may then export them to countries like China and India, which rely on dirty energy sources to power their increasing industrialization.  The world depends on the ingenuity of American engineers and business leaders to find ways to decrease pollution, and by incentivizing innovation with a carbon price, Baker-Shultz would greatly accelerate this process.

We’ve seen how attractive this solution is to the young conservatives we work with on our respective campuses, and we appreciate Republican leaders like Senator Romney who are willing to discuss it publicly. With the growing support from Utah’s elected officials and the business community, we are optimistic for the future of climate policy.

If our party intends to capture the hearts of our peers, it needs to engage in the climate conversation by proposing economy-wide solutions like Baker-Shultz. This is not a departure from our values as conservatives; it is building on a rich heritage of environmental stewardship, beginning with Theodore Roosevelt and continuing on through Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush. Thank you, Senator Romney, for continuing this proud legacy.

Josh Meyer
Chair, Utah Federation of College Republicans
Chair, University of Utah College Republicans
Cole Larson
Chair, Weber State University College Republicans

Nick Compton
Chair, Utah Valley University College Republicans

Spencer May
Chair, Brigham Young University College Republicans

Quincy Taylor
Vice Chair, Brigham Young University College Republicans (20-21)