2 thoughts on “Institutional Failure and the Tragedy of Climate Change”

  1. Posted 23/05/2011 at 18:38 | Permalink

    As the writer says the solution lies in the market. But if the market is to work efficiently the global economic model based on ever increasing consumption at an accelerating rate funded by personal and sovereign debt must be abandoned.

    When we have to pay realistic prices for our clothes, food flown in from Indonesia, the gadgets from which so many people gain their self esteem and all the rest, when credit companies set realistic limits on what people can owe, then as people start to live within their means carbon emissions will soon start to fall.

  2. Posted 24/05/2011 at 13:15 | Permalink

    Ed, thanks for the comment. I didn’t say though that the solution lies with the market. I think most environmental problems have market solutions or potential market solutions. In the case of climate change though, I claim that there is no institutional solution. To have a market solutuion would require property rights to the atmosphere – but this is impossible (note I do not count carbon trading as a ‘market solution). Equally though, I don’t believe there is a state/political solution either – for all of the reasons set out in the second half of the post (on the Pileus site). I should add that these same reasons lead me to question your own faith in ‘reducing excessive consumption’ – who is to decide what counts as ‘excessive’ consumption or what the ‘right price’ is for clothes, food flown in from Indonesia etc …? There is certainly no reason to believe that politicians/the state can do this effectively. So, we can’t rely on the market in this case and we can’t rely on the state. So what do we do? I don’t profess to have an answer, and I wish others wouldn’t do so either.

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