Economic freedom is good for the planet

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(Photograph by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images.)

The Biden administration’s Earth Day summit is being heralded by progressives as America’s triumphant return to the global climate stage after years of neglect under President Trump. The summit is “an opportunity for the United States to come back on the stage to show that it takes climate change seriously”, according to David Waskow, director of the International Climate Initiative.

But today’s progressives who believe global treaties and central planning will stop climate change and get China to stop polluting are getting politics and politics wrong. Ask Bill Clinton.

In his 1992 Earth Day speech, then-candidate Clinton said, “I believe it’s time for a new era of environmental protection, which uses the market to help us restore our environment. on track – to recognize that Adam Smith’s invisible hand may have a green thumb.

Unfortunately, many modern progressives prefer to use the climate debate to wage a proxy war against capitalism. They argue that the best way to tackle climate change is through a “degrowth” agenda that seeks to reduce economic activity that requires energy consumption. Proposals like the Green New Deal to advance independent socialist policies like government-run health care, free college, and universal basic income.

Clinton and Adam Smith were right. Countries that have embraced free markets, property rights, limited government, and lower taxes have significantly cleaner environments. These are the findings of a new paper from an organization I co-founded, the Conservative Coalition for Climate Solutions.

Author Nick Loris has reviewed economic data and case studies from nearly 180 countries and notes that free economies are twice as clean as non-free economies. He cites Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI), which measures a country’s environmental health and ecosystem vitality using more than 30 environmental indicators and assigns scores ranging from 0 to 100. Most free economies scored an average of 71.72 while most non-free economies scored 35.17.

Loris describes a process that Adam Smith would acknowledge: “Economic growth initially leads to greater unwanted industrial by-products, as industrialization drives pollution and people and institutions prioritize jobs and income over to the health of the environment.Over time, however, this wealth means that more resources are available for the protection of the environment…Wealthier people can afford products and technologies that make life more easier, healthier and cleaner.

George Mason University economist Donald Boudreaux put it succinctly: We are “cleansed by capitalism”.

House Republicans are wisely mounting a counteroffensive this week with dozens of their own bills countering the left’s “free stuff” agenda with a serious freedom agenda. And they can indicate real, recent results. Emissions have declined during the Trump era, including after he withdrew from the Paris Agreement in 2017, because Republicans passed economic freedom measures, including improving the environmental review and licensing process for federal agencies. The E. by the pandemic.

Progressives want to frame the climate debate as a fight for environmental justice. There is no greater source of environmental injustice in the world today than central planning. Socialist policies are truly cruel, especially to poor and marginalized communities. In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez devastated his country’s economy and environment with his socialist experiment, a trend that continued under his successor, Nicolás Maduro. Loris explains, “Hugo Chavez has replaced specialized industry expertise with cronies. His regime diverted revenues that private enterprise would invest in new capital, technology, and skilled labor to remain competitive to military and social programs instead. The country has now become so poor that even though it is flooded with oil, people are dismantling the equipment to sell the scrap metal just to survive. As Emanuelle Ottolenghi wrote in the dispatch, illegal mining taking place under Maduro leads to deforestation and dangerously polluted waterways.

According to a November 2020 New York Times report, “When it rains, the oil that has seeped into the sewage system comes up through manholes and drains, flowing with the rainwater down the streets, coating houses and filling the city with its gassy stench.” One observer, Francisco Barrios, noted: “There are no jobs, no gasoline, but oil is spreading everywhere.

And remember that the most notorious environmental disaster in history, Chernobyl, was a failure of central planning and ideological extremism more than nuclear technology. As the main character of the magnificent HBO series notes, “Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later, that debt is paid.

Today, the left incurs a debt to the truth with anti-science alarmism and economic policies that put party purity before efficiency.

By becoming the champions of climate realism, conservatives will not cede ground but rather seize the heights. Science, math and history tell us that economic freedom is good for people and good for the planet.

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