Metro

  • Written by Jason Scorse, Associate Professor, Chair, Director, Middlebury

The economic foundation[1] at the heart of conservative political philosophy is that markets are the best way to allocate the bulk of society’s resources.

That faith in markets explains the Republican Party’s preference for, say, private medical insurance[2] over a government-run American health system. And it informs their push to loosen regulations that have governed big banks[3] since the 2009 financial crisis.

This emphasis on markets is also on display in many policies that conservative parties across the globe are enacting to address climate change. Climate change may be a partisan issue in the United States[4], but numerous surveys of other countries[5] reveal that tackling climate change is not incompatible with conservative principles[6].

Conservative governments with a strong climate record

Across Europe, Conservatives have gotten behind cap and trade[7], a market-based system for reducing carbon emissions.

The European Emission Trading[8] system, passed by the European Commission in 2005 with support across the ideological spectrum, sets limits on the continent’s annual carbon emissions. Companies that pollute more may purchase carbon rights from those who find innovative ways to reduce their own emissions, capping total pollution while giving individual firms the freedom to buy and sell their share.

The cap-and-trade strategy was first put into practice in the United States in 1990, under President George Bush, to combat acid rain[9].

In Germany, an industrial powerhouse, Chancellor Angela Merkel[10] of the center-right Christian Democratic party, has strongly supported[11] a comprehensive climate law that would combine cap and trade, tax incentives for renewable energy and major investments in energy efficiency.

To be fair, the political spectrum in Europe skews left. But conservatives in more right-leaning countries are fighting climate change, too.

India’s hard-right Prime Minister Narendra Modi – leader of the world’s largest democracy – is a strong proponent of renewable energy. While his administration maintains support for the coal industry, solar production is set to increase five-fold in India by 2022[12].

Market-based policies work to fight climate change, from India to Jamaica Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with France’s Emanuel Macron at a new solar power plant in Mirzapur, India, March 12, 2018. Reuters/Ludovic Marin/Pool[13]

And Chilean President Sebastian Piñera, who holds strong conservative views[14] on many social issues, has nonetheless embraced some of the most stringent climate goals[15] in Latin America.

According to the Climate Action Tracker, which monitors countries’ progress toward reducing carbon emissions, Chile will generate 65% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2035, and has imposed strict new energy efficiency standards on manufacturing, mining and transportation.

In Jamaica, the Labour Party – the island’s conservative party – has endorsed a new “climate accelerator[16].” Backed by billionaire Richard Branson and the Inter-American Development Bank[17], the initiative aims to make this vulnerable region more resilient by attracting financing[18] to scale up renewable energy, build low-carbon infrastructure and increase investments in green technology.

Climate change is a market failure

I am an environmental economist[19], but it doesn’t require advanced training in economics to recognize the basic principles underlying all these conservative-backed environmental policies.

The first is conservative faith that financial markets can adapt and innovate to address today’s climate challenge.

There’s evidence for this belief. Renewable power – which was economically unviable just a decade ago – is so affordable now[20] because governments and companies around the world have invested immensely in solar and wind[21]. What is expensive today can be made cheap tomorrow if governments put the right incentives in place.

The second basis for the climate policies conservatives worldwide support is an understanding that, under certain circumstances[22], markets can and do fail.

Markets function properly only under certain conditions.

First, the harmful impacts of producing a given good – which economists call “negative externalities[23]” – cannot hurt anyone other than the producers and consumers of that good. There must also be clear and enforceable property rights over every good in the marketplace.

When these bedrock principles are violated, market breakdown ensues.

Take air pollution, for example. When a chemical factory that produces a cleaning product releases toxic fumes, the cost of that pollution – the negative externality – is not borne exclusively by the buyer or seller of that product. Everyone who inhales the fumes suffers.

Yet because no one owns the “property rights” to the atmosphere, no one can hold the chemical factory or its clients legally responsible for contaminated air.

This is market failure. And in the environmental realm, it is the norm.

Every coal plant or natural gas field that emits the greenhouse gases that drives climate change[24] free of charge is violating the fundamental principle of well-functioning markets.

Policies like Europe’s cap and trade system or Britain’s carbon tax[25], which will soon require companies pay a fee[26] for every unit of pollution they emit, are designed to fix this problem.

Market-based policies work to fight climate change, from India to Jamaica Donald Trump has made support for the U.S. coal industry a pillar of his administration. Reuters/Leah Millis[27]

Global outliers

Not all conservatives embrace market-based environmental policies, of course.

Republicans in the U.S. voted overwhelmingly against a proposed carbon tax in 2016[28]. Then-House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said[29] it would be “detrimental to American families and businesses.”

Australia’s conservative party, which won a surprise victory[30] in May’s national election, is propelling the country backwards on climate[31]. A few years ago, they repealed a 2010 carbon tax[32]. Now the country’s new prime minister, Scott Morrison, is reducing the emission-reduction target Australia signed onto in the Paris climate accords and renewing his government’s commitment to the coal industry[33].

Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, too, has rolled back his country’s strict environmental regulations[34]. That’s left the Amazon rainforest open to deforestation[35] and fire[36].

The current governments of the United States, Australia and Brazil are global outliers who defy overwhelming basic economics and overwhelming scientific evidence[37] that climate change is one of the gravest risks facing humanity[38].

From Jamaica to India, rightist leaders have shown confidence that with the right incentives companies can and will innovate to transform the economy in a more sustainable direction.

[ Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter[39]. ]

References

  1. ^ economic foundation (www.press.uchicago.edu)
  2. ^ private medical insurance (www.economist.com)
  3. ^ loosen regulations that have governed big banks (www.forbes.com)
  4. ^ partisan issue in the United States (theconversation.com)
  5. ^ surveys of other countries (www.pewresearch.org)
  6. ^ not incompatible with conservative principles (www.ipsos.com)
  7. ^ cap and trade (theconversation.com)
  8. ^ European Emission Trading (ec.europa.eu)
  9. ^ to combat acid rain (www.smithsonianmag.com)
  10. ^ Chancellor Angela Merkel (www.cleanenergywire.org)
  11. ^ strongly supported (www.climatechangenews.com)
  12. ^ increase five-fold in India by 2022 (www.news18.com)
  13. ^ Reuters/Ludovic Marin/Pool (pictures.reuters.com)
  14. ^ strong conservative views (www.nytimes.com)
  15. ^ most stringent climate goals (climateactiontracker.org)
  16. ^ climate accelerator (theconversation.com)
  17. ^ Inter-American Development Bank (www.iadb.org)
  18. ^ attracting financing (www.worldbank.org)
  19. ^ environmental economist (www.middlebury.edu)
  20. ^ is so affordable now (www.forbes.com)
  21. ^ invested immensely in solar and wind (ourworldindata.org)
  22. ^ certain circumstances (scholarworks.umass.edu)
  23. ^ negative externalities (pressbooks.bccampus.ca)
  24. ^ greenhouse gases that drives climate change (www.nationalgeographic.com)
  25. ^ carbon tax (uk.reuters.com)
  26. ^ pay a fee (www.c2es.org)
  27. ^ Reuters/Leah Millis (pictures.reuters.com)
  28. ^ against a proposed carbon tax in 2016 (insideclimatenews.org)
  29. ^ said (www.atr.org)
  30. ^ surprise victory (theconversation.com)
  31. ^ propelling the country backwards on climate (www.forbes.com)
  32. ^ 2010 carbon tax (www.vox.com)
  33. ^ his government’s commitment to the coal industry (www.theguardian.com)
  34. ^ rolled back his country’s strict environmental regulations (theconversation.com)
  35. ^ deforestation (theconversation.com)
  36. ^ fire (theconversation.com)
  37. ^ overwhelming scientific evidence (climate.nasa.gov)
  38. ^ gravest risks facing humanity (www.nytimes.com)
  39. ^ Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter (theconversation.com)

Authors: Jason Scorse, Associate Professor, Chair, Director, Middlebury

Read more http://theconversation.com/market-based-policies-work-to-fight-climate-change-from-india-to-jamaica-121685

Metropolitan republishes selected articles from The Conversation USA with permission

Visit The Conversation to see more

Entertainment News

Violin ReEnvisioned

Falling in love with music so young was more than transformative. Music became the lead sheet of my life; challenging me to navigate changes with grace, maintain a steady rhythmic groove, dynami...

Chelsey Green - avatar Chelsey Green

Kadda Sheekoff Win Best Urban Song For "All My Life"

Singer Kadda Sheekoff have emerged as the toast of the 2020 Songdew Pause&Play. Obviously, there are many composers who deserve the award more than Kadda Sheekoff, but the decision of the S...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

A Musical Journey: The Authentic Ted Cline

Ted Cline was born in 1962 as the 11th of 13 children.  His parents were hard-working tobacco share-croppers in Weston, Missouri. By the time he was eleven, he was sneaking downstairs to play his...

Ted Cline - avatar Ted Cline

Angela Predhomme - My Musical Journey

Determined to “make it” in the music industry as a songwriter, I meticulously crafted the best songs I could and pitched them to industry gatekeepers. “THIS one’s got to be IT,” I thought. But ala...

Angela Predhomme - avatar Angela Predhomme

GREYE: “So Far So Good”

“So Far So Good” After seven plus years firing up venues up and down the Atlantic Coast and throughout the Midwest to the breakneck tune of 90-110 annual shows, it’s definitely been jarring fo...

News Company - avatar News Company

The life and times of Wendy Moten

I never thought I would be in the music business, much less a recording artist. I never saw it coming. I thought I'd be a corporate attorney or something like that. Little did I know that anothe...

Wendy Moten - avatar Wendy Moten

CARY PARK “You Matter to Me”

“You Matter to Me” In any other time, Cary Park’s stunning new single “You Matter to Me” might be just another beautiful heartfelt love song, an outpouring of personal affection towards a cheri...

News Company - avatar News Company

TED CLINE ... Country Music Done Right

Country Music Done Right When Ted Cline uses the phrase “Country Music Done Right” to describe his engaging vibe, the Kansas City area-based singer/songwriter isn’t simply being crafty or clev...

News Company - avatar News Company

LAMONT DOZIER, JR. “Why Can’t We Be Lovers”/”I’m Gonna Take My Time”

When it comes to enduring musical legacies, it’s always inspiring when the melodic, grooving evergreen apples drop so close to the tree. The son and namesake of legendary singer, songwriter and re...

News Company - avatar News Company

Metropolitan Business News

MODEL/ACTOR THORN CASTILLO IS THE “NEW FACE” OF SCHICK STYLIST

In 2019, just as his multi-faceted career was taking off, Thorn Castillo heard Robert Downey Jr. offer a sage bit of advice during an interview on photographer/director Sam Jones’ acclaimed multi-...

News Company - avatar News Company

New Research Highlights Opportunities for Sports Betting

Revenue Stream for Sports’ Post-COVID-19 Recovery Strategies New Rochelle, NY, June 1, 2020— Twenty-four states have now legalized sports betting, with more states considering legalization la...

Len Stein - avatar Len Stein

How to make overseas transfers easier?

Mainstream banks can charge as much as $20 just to process a basic international money transfer. Fortunately, today people are not doomed to handling personal finances only through mainstream gl...

News Company - avatar News Company

The flourishing international market of fragrance and perfume

There is something special and unique about the art of fragrance. This is a big world and there are quite literally a lot of smells around at any given time. In fact, as one of the five human senses i...

News Company - avatar News Company

Impact of good marketing on sales

Sales and marketing are brothers as they go hand and in hand. The job of both of these departments is to generate revenue so that an organization can make money. A company that does not generate rev...

News Company - avatar News Company

7 effective tips for increasing sales in retail

It seems that retailers have drawn a difficult lot in the 21st century: competition from online retail is growing steadily. After all, Internet retailers can sell your products at significantly lowe...

News Company - avatar News Company

Holidays

5 COOL GADGETS TO CARRY FOR A SAFE TRIP

Are you planning to go on a trip? Possibly, you do not know what things are most necessary on a trip. In this article, we will guide you through some important tips. These tips help you to...

News Company - avatar News Company

New Baggage Regulations to Help Aussie Parents Travel with Infants

Travelling around the globe has never been easy, especially when infants tag along for the trip. One of the main issues that parents often have to deal with is the need to bring extra item...

News Company - avatar News Company

Maya Beach Opens to Tourists

Despite recent reports that Southern Thailand's famous Maya Beach will close for three months this year, in fact no decision to this effect has been made by Thai authorities. Phi Phi Nati...

Maevadi Rosenfeldt - avatar Maevadi Rosenfeldt