A new book, published this month in the United Kingdom, encourages legislators "to adopt institutional frameworks, including decentralised government, that encourage innovation, foster enterprise and enable individuals to develop strategies and technologies to cope with changing circumstances." This collection of articles questions whether we can expect to effectively accomplish greenhouse gas emissions goals by using governmentally imposed penalties for violators of arbitrarily established limits. Their arguments easily apply to other government initiatives and programs including those affecting recycling and waste conversion.
Below is a book summary published by the Sustainable Development Network...
Carrots, Sticks and Climate Change: A primer on down-to-earth ideas about climate policy
published Tuesday 6 December 2005
Policymakers are being pressured to`address the threat of climate change. Most of the focus so far has been on ‘sticks’, in the form of government restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. This book argues that ‘carrots’ are a more humane and cost-effective way for policymakers to address climate-sensitive problems.
Like it or not,we live in a world characterised by scarce resources. All decisions have costs and tradeoffs, and people make decisions about what costs to bear and which tradeoffs to make, and how, in response to incentives. It is here that social science – specifically, economics – can make an important contribution to the climate debate.
The book’s contributors argue that
• The world’s poorest people are most vulnerable to climate – that is to say, they suffer because of the prevailing weather, not changes in the climate per se.
• Global agreements that seek by government fiat to restrict greenhouse gas emissions are costly, ineffective against climate-sensitive problems, and would perpetuate poverty. In short, they are unsustainable.
• A more cost-effective, and more humane, solution is to tackle today’s problems which may be exacerbated by climate change – including malaria, food production, biodiversity loss, water shortages, coastal flooding and other problems.
• A broad adaptive strategy would not only provide insurance against climate sensitive problems, but it would have spill-over benefits for achieving sustainable development. The UK government’s own climate studies support this approach.
• In the 20th century, attempts to plan national economies failed dismally, destroyed the environment and harmed millions of people. Climate control by global and national governments would likely have the same consequences.
• The primary long-term solution to climate vulnerability is for all countries to adopt institutional frameworks, including decentralised government, that encourage innovation, foster enterprise and enable individuals to develop strategies and technologies to cope with changing circumstances.