As a Dallas-based business executive and environmentalist, I believe that the marketplace can offer solutions for the environment, and that green conservative ideas can help cities and states adapt to a changing climate. Effective environmental solutions need not be at odds with economic growth; solutions also can be profitable when consumers are educated and demand eco-friendly goods and services.
I was raised a Republican, studied economics at Yale, and ran an international business that showed me how important the market economy is to America’s economic success. Much of my business career was spent running trade marts, both the Dallas Market Center and the International Trade Mart in Brussels, Belgium. The most vibrant, profitable wholesale centers bring together the best variety of buyers and sellers, and maximize their interactions.
But I have been an environmentalist since I learned the word at age 10. And when I began to realize how dire the environmental threats are to my children and future generations, I declared myself a Green Republican. I began supporting environmental organizations and politicians who understand that the best environmental solutions will come not from government regulation, but from market-driven, business-led innovations. Ideas of sustainable design in real estate and electric vehicles, for example, always have intrigued me.
Yet, I have always wanted to put ideas into action. Based on my experience with trade marts, I envisioned an environmental marketplace of ideas. That’s why I founded EarthX in 2011 to promote environmental education and solutions.
EarthX hosts the annual Dallas gathering, which now is the world’s largest environmental exposition, conference and film festival. In our first year, we had more than 38,000 visitors and 200 exhibitors. We then expanded the event and grew into Earth Day Texas. This year, we convened 175,000 visitors, including 6,000 K-12 students, 2,000 conferees and speakers, and 700 exhibitors.
This marketplace of ideas brings together leaders from across the country and the political spectrum. We take special care to include both Democrats and Republicans, corporations and small businesses, and welcome all with a green story and goals to participate.
The participants engage in environmental conversations that would not otherwise happen.
ConservAmerica, for example, advocates for a “zero regrets” plan that would eliminate federal taxes on electricity that is fueled by power sources with no emissions (nuclear, wind, hydropower, solar and geothermal, e.g.) The Clean Capitalist Coalition supports the “zero regrets plan” and is developing its own proposals, including the use of clean asset bonds. These bonds would help create a broad-based capital market for green investment by incentivizing both debt and taxable equity investment.
The coalition also advocates energy innovation tax credits that are not limited to one or more technologies as long as they contribute to lowered carbon emissions, greater efficiencies or decreased pollution. This ensures a more balanced energy policy approach and ensures all businesses have an equal playing field.