Free markets can protect the environment

Oliver Demaine,

Twitter: @oliverjdemaine


It seems to me, and other ‘nasty capitalists’ that the moment environmental or social problems occur in our national and international spectrum we move into this raging anti-capitalist, anti-prosperity, pro-Marxism society. For example, the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 saw everyone forget that we rely hugely on BP and other oil companies for our existence as human beings, then we saw the ‘Occupy’ movement, which advocated for a shift into the realm of fundamental socialism. Haven’t these people ever considered that like the free markets and capitalism brought people food and water across the world, they could do the same to protect our environment?

Let’s actually look at what is going on at the moment: state regulations are suppressing the carbon fuel markets across the western world, there are regulations on pretty much every market possible, no matter where you are. This is not the free market I believe in, so we cannot blame environmental failures on free markets and proper capitalism. This partially state controlled market system is currently damaging the environment, the status quo is not working for anyone either, but that is no excuse for a shift to large beards and turnip diets. Under the current system, companies are finding it harder to expand and develop under these burdensome regulations and the environment is finding survival difficult. So what is the right answer?

Well the free market might just be it as it – and it alone – has the ability to offer prosperity with freedom. Furthermore, we can see from studies that emission growth rates are highest among the poorest countries – emphasising the necessity of innovation and capitalism. Following that avenue, this means that the capitalism model can, in turn, increase the global and local standard of living thus allowing people to develop their choices of raw materials and energy – less people will be burning coal to keep themselves warm, for example. Yet, there seems to be this attitude that if the state gives up control of the free market, the environment will rapidly demise? But isn’t the environment doing that already? Instead of blaming the companies, why not work with companies to see what balance can be made to help protect the environment and to allow companies to make profits? In the private sector now, firms are doing much to help the environment, you can see that from BSKYB with their ‘save the Jaguar’ campaign, The Body Shop, with their animal friendly products, and a plethora of others – we should be encouraging more of these models.

If you can incentivise companies, or their consumers more importantly, to get involved in protecting the environment, society will benefit hugely as the responsibility of environmental protectionism shifts to a credible carer, as under this model, for a company to survive, the environment needs to survive too. This can be witnessed in sectors which target environmentally or socially conscious consumers, not least your average socially and fashionable shoe buyer, TOMS. This environmentally conscious choice means that the environment is then able to be protected, as the more damaging materials and energy (such as coal and wood from declining rainforests) are less likely to be used. Being able to make this choice is something which no state regulation can do. It offers a long term solution to a long term problem, sustainability rather than damaging short term legislation. Legislators need to think about what the free market can offer, rather than what it could possibly damage..

Allowing the market to be truly free, empowering the firms to regulate themselves, based on informed consumer decision making, will see far better results for the environment than the current broad-stroke policymaking structure, which only serves as a deterrent for jobs and growth. Instead of viewing transnational companies as institutions which don’t care about anything expect profits – which is not true – you will be able to understand that they have more to offer than the state in protecting the environment.

I believe, like most of you Backbencher readers, that the answer is not how to avoid the free market’s role in the 21st century, but how we can further involve it in our day-to-day lives. The benefits of  free markets are something which the world needs, and the environment needs too. Allow change to happen, because at the moment, in the current situation, our environment and economy are going to suffer heavily.



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