The Libertarian Approach To Climate Change: Privatize It!

WRITTEN BY: Emily Green

In a free society, property rights are protected. Anyone who harms you, or your property, must make restitution, personally. If you can prove I polluted your property, or your body, I am liable.

Imagine your crops failing from lack of rain. Are you the victim of normal changes of weather or, are you the victim of insidious anthropogenic global warming (AGW)?

These are difficult questions. According to much of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) dogma, man is likely to blame. However, there is a growing voice of credible dissenters. You’ll get no prizes for guessing what side of the debate the ever expanding, and polluting, duplicitous governments are usually on.

This author suggests that the most moral and efficient way to deal with climate change is to privatise the entire concern, to take the political animals out of it, and let our market function. Apply the law equally to protect everyone’s property rights. Bastiat would have it no other way.

In place of failed government policies (taxes, regulations, subsidies, emissions trading schemes, and other market distortions) would be tort litigation, with strict liability and restitution for proven wrongdoers. Tort litigation is the process of suing a wrongdoer in a court of law, proving a causal link with evidence between their conduct and your damage, with restitution among the available remedies. Restitution is more than a remedy, it’s the most effective deterrent known. Additionally, a Libertarian society would recognise the homestead claims of indigenous peoples to their lands, affording them the same protections of the law.

Sovereign immunity, bankruptcy and limited liability shield laws protecting wrongdoers from non-contracting parties would also be abolished. Government has no right to “forgive” the wrongs of its, or a Corporation’s, employees. Only the victims should have such a right. Picture a society in which government laws couldn’t pardon a corporate executive or government employee, who may now face spending their lifetime compensating their victims. Instantly we’d have more oversight and less pollution!

As for determining the veracity of AGW and apportion guilt, that’s for the courts to decide, not for poplulist governments relying upon unsettled science. The benefits through litigation are immense: Litigants would advance the public’s understanding of climate science as courts would have access to expert witness testimony. And, as each side invests to test their hypothesis in court, competition in science is intensified. Importantly, the IPCC’s monopoly on scientific progress would be challenged.

By privatising climate change policy, big polluters (businesses and governments) with large CO2 footprints would seek ‘cleaner’ alternatives as the true cost of production dependent upon fossil fuels is revealed with the removal of taxes, subsidies, regulations, and other artificial distortions. Plus, polluters’ insurance premiums would rise to reflect the likelihood of potential litigation with the added removal of government shield laws, limiting victims’ ability to seek restitution.

If you’d like to know more, I recommend Graham Dawson’s brilliant essay:
“… How to Privatize Climate Policy”, available online here.

Emily Green

Food for thought:
When our weather reporters can’t get the weekend’s temperature right, it’s difficult to believe that global warming can be accurately predicted, isn’t it?

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