climate change
An Adelie penguin stands atop a block of melting ice near the French station at Dumont d’Urville in East Antarctica, Jan. 23, 2010. Reuters/Pauline Askin

President Donald Trump issued an executive order Tuesday rolling back the Clean Power Plan, one of the Obama administration's key climate change policies, in order to "grow American jobs," and "end the theft of prosperity." Trump, who once declared climate change was a hoax created by the Chinese, is the leader of a party former President Barack Obama called the only major party in "the advanced world that effectively denies climate change."

Despite the reluctance of GOP leaders to acknowledge the dangers of man-made climate change, the party rank and file was more likely to embrace the need for climate action, with some Republican members, and former members, of Congress looking to develop conservative solutions to an issue scientists say is a grave threat.

Read: How Trump's Clean Power Plan Executive Order Will Affect Climate Change

From a conservative perspective, excessive government regulation can't solve much of anything, let alone something as immense as climate change.

"We got much better opportunities to fix climate change than the clean power plan," former South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis told NPR Wednesday. Inglis is the founder and Executive Director of, a group that advocates free market solutions to climate change. Like a growing number of his ideological allies, Inglis said he believes a carbon tax would be the best way to harness free market forces in the fight against climate change.

A carbon tax would replace complicated environmental regulation with what is on its face a simple concept: tax every product based on its carbon cost. This would encourage companies to shrink their carbon footprint in order to lower prices and stay competitive. If America could do that, then "the world would follow our leadership," Inglis said.

Republicans with actual experience leading the world have put forth a similar proposal. Last month, a group named the Council on Climate Leadership, which included former secretaries of state James Baker and George Schultz, called for a gradually increasing carbon tax that would be paid back to the American people in the form of dividend payments. "A sensible carbon tax might began at $40 a ton and increase steadily over time," the group's proposal said.

For any of this to happen, Republicans with an actual seat in Congress need to get on board with the idea. That could be a tall order, as a recent Gallup poll showed only 40 percent of Republican respondents were worried about climate change, compared to 85 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of independents. But concern is growing among conservatives: only 31 percent of Republicans were worried about climate change in 2015. American conservatives are moving toward acceptance of climate change, which creates opportunities for moderate Republicans from areas affected by rising sea levels to speak out on the issue.

One of those Republicans was Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, co-chair and co-founder of the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus, which currently has 13 Republican members. On Tuesday, Curbelo issued a statement calling the president's executive order "misguided."

"Climate change is occurring and it is not a coincidence global temperatures have risen at the same time tremendous amounts of carbon dioxide have been added to the atmosphere," Curbelo said. "I continue to believe economic growth and dealing with this threat are not mutually exclusive."