“Regulate ecology through freedom”

In the Journal des libertés [full article in French], researcher Erwan Queinnec makes a plea in favour of free market environmentalism. In a summary article, the author gives a rigorous overview of the possible policy responses to the environmental issue. He first summarizes the dominant thought on the subject:

Isn’t the environment the great victim of economic development? Worse still, isn’t its degradation inherent in the very logic of the economy of freedom?

In a first level of analysis, he highlights the historical link between economic development and environmental protection, traditionally formalized by the Kuznetz curve, while in a second level of analysis, it describes the most common responses in public debate.

In a second level of analysis, he attempts to describe the most widespread responses in the public debate:

“Environmental Economics” […] postulates that since the economy and the environment maintain a spontaneously conflictual relationship, good public interventionism optimizes its coexistence; such an aspiration bears the hallmark of the neoclassical paradigm. The carbon market instituted by the European Union in 2005 or the carbon tax introduced in France by the “Grenelle de l’environnement”, bear the conceptual mark of this.

“Ecological Economics” […] brings together all kinds of heterodoxies reputed not to be anti-liberal, such as institutionalism, Marxism, post-Keynesianism, etc. …] This doctrine focuses less on “market failures” than on the ecological limits of a global economic system for which unsustainable economic growth would be the program.

The third level of analysis is that of a liberal ecology:

Since the economy of freedom is a progressive solution to the problem of scarcity, should the environment and its non-renewable resources – and therefore rare really be outside its scope?

For nearly thirty years, ICREI has shown, through its work, that the answer to this question is no. Thanks to appropriate tools, free and responsible people are putting themselves at the service of the environment.