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ACRE

Why our Environment needs Capitalism

6 January 2017

Capitalism is the only force powerful enough to save our environment. Join our Blue-Green Summit to discover how Conservatives make the best conservationists.

UN studies tell us that even in the best-case scenario – a world in which all countries complied fully with their international pledges – by 2030 we would still face an emissions gap (a shortfall of what’s required to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius this century) of 14 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide. To put that in perspective, that is about a third of our total current emissions.

In short, it is scientifically predicted that government regulation, alone, will not be enough to save our environment. And while the conscientious efforts made by millions to alter consumer patterns and lifestyles – often at significant personal cost – should be recognised and encouraged, neither should we place all of our hope in this sacrificial benevolence. We must remember the fact that over 1 billion people still live in extreme poverty, and much of their hope for economic development depends on energy consumption.

Since regulation and individual benevolence are forecast to be insufficient, another, more powerful force needs to be employed for our environment’s sake. Capitalism is powerful because it’s functioning depends on rational self-interest: goods and services are voluntarily offered and chosen when a transaction is mutually desirable to both vendor and customer. Once consuming green becomes the mutually desirable and most cost-effective option, a real sustainable environmental solution will be realised.

For “being green” to be the cost-effective option, however, we need breakthroughs in clean and efficient energy and technology. Government can have a role to play in supporting this; best so when it acknowledges the innovative power of true market competition. Furthermore, the government’s capacity to enforce property rights and secure ownership can also encourage conservation through private trusteeship.

Gladly many have already begun to understand this: initiatives like the Bill Gates Breakthrough Energy Coalition and Bloomberg New Energy Finance are good examples among many. Concerning trusteeship, the North Atlantic Salmon Fund is an excellent example; the commercial agreements of which cover and help to conserve about 85% of the waters which Atlantic Salmon inhabits.

But more can be done. This radical hope for the environment offered by conservative market capitalism will be the focus of our Blue-Green Summit. Join us to discover how conservatives make the best conservationists in the Solvay Library, Brussels, on 1 February 2017.