Green conservatism

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Green conservatism is a combination of conservatism with environmentalism. Environmental concern has been voiced by both conservative politicians and philosophers throughout the history of modern conservatism with Edmund Burke (the philosophical founder of modern conservatism) in his Reflections on the Revolution in France quoted as saying 'the earth, the kind and equal mother of all ought not to be monopolised to foster the pride and luxury of any men'.[1]



Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser legislated significant environmental protection laws for the Great Barrier Reef while leader of the conservative Liberal Party as early as the 1970s.[2]

Australian politics became more polemic around the year 2000. Once an uneasy alliance between the Australian Labor Party (the traditional opposition to the Liberal Party) and The Greens had formed, it caused many conservative voters to become suspicious of Green politics.

In 2004, the conservative Family First Party aired a television advertisement labelling The Australian Greens as the Extreme Greens.[3] Since then, the continuously increasing anti-conservative dominance within The Greens has led to this label receiving broader use in the media.[4][5]


The Sustainability Network party was founded by Marina Silva, a prominent conservative environmentalist who was previously a member of various political parties including the Brazilian Green Party.[6]

The National Ecologic Party also has ties to the Assemblies of God, the largest evangelical denomination present in Brazil.


In Canada, the term was popularized in 2006 by Preston Manning, former federal opposition leader and founder of the Reform Party of Canada.[7] 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.


In Denmark, the Conservative People's Party advocates conservative policies, while being a part of the green bloc of Folketinget. They opposed the Danish 2016 Agriculture Reform due to enivornmental concerns.


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.


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, merged into the conservative Liberal Democratic Party.


Following the 2014 Latvian parliamentary election, the Union of Greens and Farmers became the third largest party in the country with 21 seats.


In the 2016 Lithuanian parliamentary election, the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union became the largest party in a surprise victory with 51 seats.


The Ecologist Green Party of Mexico, founded in 1993, won 47 seats in the 2015 Mexican legislative election.

United Kingdom[edit]

The Conservative Party 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.[8]

Cameron spoke of embracing 'green' issues, and had made climate change a key component of his speeches.[9] He called for an independent climate change commission to ensure that emissions reductions targets are met.[10] However, Cameron's claim of leading the "greenest government ever"[11] has been repudiated by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, who argued that Cameron had "shown little interest in green policy and the sustainability agenda."[12]

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.[13]

Bright Blue, a liberal conservative think tank launched the Green Conservatism project to create conservative support for policies that address climate change.[14]

Green conservatism is also supported by some on the right of the Conservative Party, such as Richard Body, on the grounds that environmental conservation is consistent with the ideas of traditionalism and High Toryism.

United States[edit]

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.[15][16] 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.[17]

In the United States, the Republican Party is generally considered as the conservative party. 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.[citation needed]

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.[18]

The Republican Party had long supported the protection of the environment at the first half of 20th Century. Republican President Theodore Roosevelt was a prominent conservationist whose policies eventually led to the creation of the modern National Park Service.[19] Republican President Richard Nixon was responsible for establishing the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970.[20]

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,[21] 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.[22] 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."[23]

The Bush administration,[24] along with several of the candidates that sought the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008,[25][26][27] 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.[citation needed] 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.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Burke, Edmund (1792). Reflections on the Revolution in France. 
  2. ^ Byron Smith (4 November 2013). "Putting Conservation Back into 'Conservative': Why Climate Change is not Just for the 'Left'". 
  3. ^ Kate Arnott (1 October 2004). "Minor parties fight it out for Victoria's final Senate seat". 
  4. ^ Nikki Todd (10 November 2007). "Family First warns against Greens". 
  5. ^ James Massola (12 June 2016). "Election 2016: Greens' dummy spit over preferences as unedifying as it is hypocritical". 
  6. ^ Drew Reed (15 October 2014). "South America's New Generation of Right Wing Environmentalists". 
  7. ^ Saskatoon Star-Phoenix
  8. ^ Pierce, Andrew (September 14, 2007) 'David Cameron pledges radical green shake-up' Daily Telegraph.
  9. ^;jsessionid=PHYKHXUF15AT1QFIQMFSFF4AVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2005/12/10/ntory10.xml Daily Telegraph online, Cameron pledges tough measures on climate change. October 12, 2005.
  10. ^ BBC Online Cameron urges climate change law Oct. 25, 2006.
  11. ^ Randerson, James (May 14, 2010) 'Cameron: I want coalition to be the greenest government everThe Guardian
  12. ^ Lucas, Caroline (May 17, 2011) Carbon budget: Could this be the greenest government ever? The Guardian
  13. ^ Husbands, Helen (31 October 2007). "Zac Goldsmith is a 'Great Briton'". Newsquest Regional Press. 
  14. ^ "Green Conservatism". 
  15. ^ We Can Have Green Conservatism - And We Should - HUMAN EVENTS. Retrieved February 20, 2010.
  16. ^ The Case for Green Conservatism - Redstate. Retrieved February 20, 2010. Broken link. Internet Archive
  17. ^ Dreher, Rod (2006). Crunchy Cons: The New Conservative Counterculture and Its Return to Roots. Random House. ISBN 1-4000-5065-0. 
  18. ^ http://www.VoteJoinRun.US
  19. ^ Filler, Daniel. "Theodore Roosevelt: Conservation as the Guardian of Democracy". Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  20. ^ Nixon, Richard (1970-07-09). "Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1970". Archived from the original on July 14, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  21. ^ Schwarzenegger, Arnold (2007-12-07). "California will Sue Federal Government". CNN. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  22. ^ Bush, George W. (2001-03-13). "Text of a Letter from the President". Archived from the original on July 22, 2009. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  23. ^ "Encourage Market-Based Solutions to Environmental Problems". OnTheIssues. 2000-08-12. 
  24. ^ "Fact Sheet: Harnessing the Power of Technology for a Secure Energy Future". 2007-02-22. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  25. ^ Kudlow & Company (2007-03-26). "Interview with Rudy Giuliani". Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  26. ^ "Issue Watch: Achieving Energy Independence". Archived from the original on 2007-11-07. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  27. ^ "The Candidates: Rep. Duncan Hunter". Washington 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  28. ^ Coral Davenport (October 28, 2011). "Mitt Romney's shifting views on climate change". CBS News. 

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