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    Popescu, Gheorghe H. and Nica, Elvira 2015. Green Economic Structures in Modern Business and Society.

    Kalfagianni, Agni 2014. Addressing the Global Sustainability Challenge: The Potential and Pitfalls of Private Governance from the Perspective of Human Capabilities. Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 122, Issue. 2, p. 307.

    Dawson, Graham 2013. Austrian economics and climate change. The Review of Austrian Economics, Vol. 26, Issue. 2, p. 183.



  • Jonathan H. Adler (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 June 2009

The dominant approach to environmental policy endorsed by conservative and libertarian policy thinkers, so-called “free market environmentalism” (FME), is grounded in the recognition and protection of property rights in environmental resources. Despite this normative commitment to property rights, most self-described FME advocates adopt a utilitarian, welfare-maximization approach to climate change policy, arguing that the costs of mitigation measures could outweigh the costs of climate change itself. Yet even if anthropogenic climate change is decidedly less than catastrophic, human-induced climate change is likely to contribute to environmental changes that violate traditional conceptions of property rights. Viewed globally, the actions of some countries—primarily industrialized nations—are likely to increase environmental harms suffered by other countries—less developed nations that have not (as of yet) made any significant contribution to climate change. It may well be that aggregate human welfare would be maximized in a warmer, wealthier world, or that the gains from climate change will offset environmental losses. Yet such claims, even if demonstrated, would not address the normative concern that the consequences of anthropogenic global warming would infringe upon the rights of people in less-developed nations. As a consequence, this paper calls for a rethinking of FME approaches to climate change policy.

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Roy W. Spencer , Climate Confusion: How Global Warming Hysteria Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians, and Misguided Policies That Hurt the Poor (New York: Encounter Books, 2008)

Roger A. Pielke Jr., The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007)

Terry L. Anderson and Donald R. Leal , Free Market Environmentalism, revised edition (New York: Palgrave, 2001)

Jonathan H. Adler , ed., Ecology, Liberty, and Property: A Free Market Environmental Reader (Washington, DC: Competitive Enterprise Institute, 2000)

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H. Scott Gordon , “The Economic Theory of a Common-Property Resource: The Fishery,” Journal of Political Economy 62 (1954): 124

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R. H. Coase , “The Problem of Social Cost,” Journal of Law and Economics 3, no. 1 (1960): 144

William Collins , “The Physical Science behind Climate Change,” Scientific American (August 2007)

Michael Oppenheimer , “The Limits of Consensus,” Science 317 (2007): 1505

Susan Solomon , “A Closer Look at the IPCC Report,” Science 319 (2008): 409

Robert Mendelsohn , Ariel Dinar , and Larry Williams , “The Distributional Impact of Climate Change on Rich and Poor Countries,” Environment and Development Economics 11 (2006): 159

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Social Philosophy and Policy
  • ISSN: 0265-0525
  • EISSN: 1471-6437
  • URL: /core/journals/social-philosophy-and-policy
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