Creating property rights to save the planet by mattsteinglass
June 16, 2008, 9:31 am
Filed under: Environment

John Quiggin makes a typically excellent point about libertarians and environmentalism, with regard to cap-and-trade:

Global climate change is one of the few instances where lots of environmentalists (not all, by any means) are supporting a property-rights based solution (tradeable emissions permits), despite starting from a position (in the leadup to Kyoto) of almost uniform opposition to anything that didn’t rely primarily on direct and detailed regulation. it seems as if the ideological opponents are upset because the government-created nature of the property rights in question will be self-evident, rather than obscured by a century or two of history.

In other words, cap-and-trade emissions permits are basically the same thing as intellectual property rights: a government-created right of ownership to something that wasn’t previously treated as ownable. Libertarians, and business types more generally, are generally fanatically in favor of the defense of intellectual property rights. You’d think they’d be equally enthusiastic about emissions permits, yet for some reason many of them aren’t.


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