Using market forces to improve global environment

Maximizing the market's ability to 'capture' the value of different environmental goods.

Mainstream economists advocate the conservation of environmental resources by effectively privitizing access. Tradable permits for sulfur emissions from power plants promise to limit total emissions at minimum total cost to electric unitilites. Systems of market-based permits would limit global emissions of greenhouse gases.

Counter Claim:
1. There is no evidence that the market system can cope with the extraordinary tensions to result from the acceleration of demography and environmental degradation. Most marketing feelers are focused on the wealthy top billion and their signals are depressed by the current recession. The market is therefore mostly blind to the opportunity of billions of consumers aspiring to a better quality of life. Business is doing little to develop the goods and services which would ensure a sustainable consumption by the majority of the world's people.

2. It is breathtaking nonsense to claim that so called "market mechanisms" are effective in achieving environmental progress than "command and "control" legislation or effective economic instruments (taxes and subsidies). The unregulated operation of the green market is the single most important cause of environmental degradation, human exploitation and voracious depletion of resources in less developed countries. The new science of "life cycle analysis" (whose leading practitioners are in the petrochemical and chemical industries) finds it more convenient to consider the environmental impacts of physical and material inputs and outputs from a manufacturing process than to assess the impact of raw material procurement on biodiversity, the rights of indigenous peoples and the sustainability of resources. No surprise then that ecolabelling enthusiasts, for example, frequently claim a life cycle approach while carefully skirting around those issues which might be considered unpalatable to industry.

3. The market is not the only source of values, and monetary values are not the only ones. Spiritual values treat certain resources and ecosystems as sacred; there are also social values as those associated with common property resource. in both cases, resources have no price -- but a very high value. In fact, it is precisely because their value is high that these resources are not left to the market but are taken beyond the domain of monetary value so as to protect and conserve them.

Type Classification:
C: Cross-sectoral strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions