Republicans who want to combat climate change say that their party must resist the temptation to reject the progressive "Green New Deal" without proposing an alternative.
"If the Green New Deal goes up in flames and becomes completely discredited, the climate issue is still there," says Josiah Neeley, director of energy policy at the R Street Institute. "You still have to come up with ways to deal with it."
The Green New Deal resolution, introduced Thursday by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. – with more than 70 co-sponsors from the house and the senate – contains several non-binding targets to transform the US economy to combat climate change.
It requires 100% clean, renewable and zero emission electricity and the elimination of carbon emissions from other important sectors of the economy – production, buildings, transport and even agriculture.
The resolution proposes massive public investments in clean energy infrastructure, such as light rail and weatherized buildings.
The plan calls for guaranteed government jobs, universal health care and making every home and business building more energy-efficient.
But because it does not contain a real policy to get there, and leaves work behind for later, the Republicans have to fill the gap with their own regulations, party leaders say.
"Republicans can point to the Green New Deal and say that these people are socialists, it's stupid and bad," said Shane Skelton, who was an energy policy advisor to former home president Paul Ryan, R-Wis. "But that is not the best route, because it is not thoughtful and you do not offer a platform."
This is especially true, because polls show that Republicans are increasingly concerned about climate change and are seeing the effects of global warming in extreme weather conditions.
"When you go into the campaign season, it's always better to say that I have a better solution for your problem that hurts you less and helps you more than say you have no problem, and I do not want to talk about it, & # 39; Skelton said.
Up to now, leading Republicans have not listened to that advice, they look at the Green New Deal, with its creep towards non-climate-related issues and focus on government intervention, as a way to make Democrats too extreme.
The Green New Deal is the "first step in a dark road to socialism," said Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., The chairman of the committee for environment and public works, in a statement to the press Thursday.
Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Urged mocking Democrats to vote for the Green New Deal.
"Americans deserve to see what solutions extreme-left Democrats offer to deal with climate change," he twittered Friday.
George David Banks, the former international energy adviser to President Trump, said he expected the White House to adopt the same combative language.
"This is a gift to the president just because of how many links some of the socio-economic issues still have," Banks said. "I can not imagine that he does not benefit politically, it's a document that's the target."
Ocasio-Cortez and Markey say their Green New Deal represents the ambition of the required action and that Republicans would pay the price for mocking it.
Markey, during a press conference on Thursday. called climate change "one of the most important issues that candidates will have to answer on both sides" in the 2020 elections.
Ocasio-Cortez was more explicit.
"I do not think we are losing elections by tackling climate change," she said. "I do not think we ever did that, and I do not think we'll ever do that."
Banks said the Green New Deal approach to "throwing the kitchen sink" against the pressures of climate change Republicans, particularly in suburban districts and coastal areas exposed to sea level rise.
"If you look at the development of a national climate policy, there are components of the Green New Deal that I would support in principle," he said. "The majority of their climate policy reflects a central position."
For example, banks and other republicans said that members could use a potential infrastructure bill to implement some of the proposal's goals.
Possible measures could be: improving energy efficiency in publicly funded projects, modernizing the electricity grid to use more wind and solar energy, rebuilding transmission and distribution lines to make them more resistant to severe weather and forest fires, and acceleration the use of electric power charging stations for vehicles.
Republicans generally also support spending on research and development and could do more.
The Congress by bipartisan margins has provided the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy or ARPA-E of the Energy Department with record financing during the Trump administration.
ARPA-E is a program that finances innovations in energy technology that are too early for private sector investments, such as improvements in battery storage and floating offshore wind turbines.
Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, the highest Republican of the Energy and Commerce Committee, promised last week during a hearing on climate change to work together on "a two-pronged path forward to address this important issue that affects not only our nation, but the world confronts. "
He said that a "longer conversation about the Green New Deal is necessary" and outlined possible areas of cooperation, such as measures to promote carbon-free advanced nuclear energy, a distant technology whose supporters say they are more viable because it is smaller, contains less fuel and energy, and would work with less risk of accidents.
Republicans also see more funding and incentives for research into and development of carbon capture that can capture fossil fuel or industrial plant emissions and store them underground.
Barrasso introduced Thursday a two-party bill that would oblige the government to facilitate the construction of pipelines to transport the captured emissions, so that it could be used for commercial purposes, which would help the technology become economically more viable.
The Green New Deal leaves the door open for carbon capture – and nuclear – to contribute to a "net zero" emission future, after some initial doubts that this would happen.
Although these innovations are an essential part of avoiding the worst climate results, they do not go far enough, according to the United Nations climate change panel last year in a report.
According to U.N. the solution also estimates a price on carbon dioxide emissions, a pivotal principle that most economists regard as the most efficient way to combat climate change
The Green New Deal does not mention CO2 pricing, leaving an opening for centrist republicans such as Rep. Francis Rooney from Florida and Brian Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania who co-sponsored CO2 tax legislation.
"We have to entertain, not cut off and entertain the competition of ideas, because this is based on the fact that conservatives can win," said former Rep. Bob Inglis, founder of republicEn.org, and a former six-year congressman from South Carolina.