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Green conservatism is a subset of conservatives who have incorporated green concerns into their ideology. Variants of green conservatism are most common where a pre-existing conservative movement are strongest, especially in the nations of the Anglosphere.
In Canada, the term was popularized in 2006 by Preston Manning, former federal opposition leader and founder of the Reform Party of Canada. Specifically Manning has argued that Western Canadian Conservatism with its strong rural roots and populist rhetoric will eventually have to reconcile the need for economic growth with protection of the environment. He has specifically talked about using water pricing in the Athabasca Oil Sands to prevent a "tragedy of the commons" scenario.
The Conservative Party in the United Kingdom under David Cameron promised a green agenda which included proposals designed to impose a tax on workplace car parking spaces, a halt to airport growth, a tax on petrol thirsty 4x4s and restrictions on car advertising. The measures were suggested by The Quality of Life Policy Group, which was set up by Cameron to help fight climate change.
Cameron has enthusiastically spoken of embracing 'green' issues, and has made climate change a key component of his speeches. He has called for an independent climate change commission to ensure that emissions reductions targets are met. However, Cameron's claim of leading the "greenest government ever" has been repudiated by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, who argues that Cameron "has shown little interest in green policy and the sustainability agenda."
Zac Goldsmith, who was the Conservative candidate for London Mayor in 2016, describes himself as an environmentalist. He received the Global Green Award for International Environmental Leadership in 2004.
One of the first uses of the term green conservatism was by former United States Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, in a debate on environmental issues with John Kerry. Around this time, the green conservative movement was sometimes referred to as the crunchy con movement, a term popularized by National Review magazine and the writings of Rod Dreher.
In the United States, the Republican Party is generally considered the conservative party. Conservation played an important part of the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt. Green conservatism manifested itself as a movement in groups such as ConservAmerica, which seeks to strengthen the Republican Party's stance on environmental issues and support efforts to conserve natural resources and protect human and environmental health.
The Independent Greens of Virginia (or Indy Greens) call themselves "common sense conservatives". The party, over the last decade, has run many conservative greens for local, state, and federal office. In 2004, the party gave its ballot line to Constitution Party nominee Michael Peroutka for president, and in 2008, once again placed the Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin on the ballot as its presidential candidate. The Indy Greens call for balancing the federal budget and paying off the federal debt.
The Republican Party had long supported the protection of the environment. Republican President Theodore Roosevelt was a prominent conservationist whose policies eventually led to the creation of the modern National Park Service. Republican President Richard Nixon was responsible for establishing the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. More recently, California Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, with the support of 16 other states, sued the Federal Government and the United States Environmental Protection Agency for the right to set vehicle emission standards higher than the Federal Standard, a right to which California is entitled under the Clean Air Act.
This association however has shifted as the Democratic Party came to also support environmentalism. For example, Democratic President Bill Clinton did not send the Kyoto Protocol to the U.S. Senate for ratification, as he thought it unfair to the United States. President George W. Bush also publicly opposed ratification of the Kyoto Protocols on the grounds that they unfairly targeted Western industrialized nations such as the United States while favoring developing Global South polluters such as China and India.
In 2000, the Republican Party adopted as part of its platform support for the development of market-based solutions to environmental problems. According to the platform, "economic prosperity and environmental protection must advance together, environmental regulations should be based on science, the government’s role should be to provide market-based incentives to develop the technologies to meet environmental standards, we should ensure that environmental policy meets the needs of localities, and environmental policy should focus on achieving results processes."
The Bush administration, along with several of the candidates that sought the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008, supported increased Federal investment into the development of clean alternative fuels, increased nuclear power, as well as fuels such as ethanol, as a way of helping the U.S. achieve energy independence, as opposed to supporting less use of carbon dioxide-producing methods of generating energy. John McCain, who ran unsuccessfully for President in 2008, supported the cap-and-trade policy, a policy that is quite popular among Democrats but much less so among other Republicans. Some Republicans support increased oil drilling in protected areas such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a position that has drawn sharp criticism from some activists. By the 2012 election the apparent support for action in the Republican Party had diminished, with eventual nominee Mitt Romney stating his opposition to cap-and-trade and voicing scepticism of links between global warming and human activity.
In Japan, the Environmental Green Political Assembly, or Midori no Kaigi, emerged from the conservative reformist Sakigake Party. It combined a conservative ideology with an ecologist platform, forcing out a number of non-ecologist members to join the Democratic Party's Ryoun-kai faction. It showed poor performance at the polls, and was dissolved in 2004.
In Germany, the Ecological Democratic Party was formed by more right-wing defectors from Die Grünen in 1982. It combined a focus on environmental protection with a promotion of the right to life (opposition to abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment); it differs from The Greens by being less supportive of immigration and restrictions on state powers in criminal justice issues, not focusing on gay and lesbian rights, and having a differing view on feminism.
While having never gained seats in federal or state legislatures in Germany, it made a name for itself by its involvement in the opposition to a Czech nuclear reactor in Temelin, across the border from Bavaria. It led an initiative for a popular referendum to abolish the Bavarian Senate (that state's upper house) which was successful. It is still active in the present day.
- Compassionate conservatism
- Free-market environmentalism
- Green liberalism
- Green libertarianism
- Traditionalist conservatism
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- Saskatoon Star-Phoenix
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