Green and growing

My story about being a Green politician in Canada, and why it was the best thing I ever did.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Prime Minister missing the boat on economic fundamentals

As I listened to the report on CBC of the Prime Minister's speech on climate change at the UN meetings, I heard a reference to his belief that market forces will lead to technological innovation which will eventually lead to solving the climate crisis.

What market forces is he talking about? The market forces I see operating are that people and corporations will buy the cheapest power available, irrespective of CO2, GHG or the impact of depleted uranium. The enlightened few may pay more for clean energy, but the market force is predominantly "fueled" by price. These same market forces drive manufacturing and assembly operations to the countries with the lowest labour cost, irrespective of worker conditions and human rights.

Market forces can be used to advantage through tax shifting, cap and trade mechanisms and well designed programs, such as R&D funding for alternative energy development and commercialization. The Prime Minister is missing the point that without these measures, the market will continue to do exactly what it has always done, consuming the unvalued portions of our habitat - particularly clean air and fresh, clean water.

Economic fundamentals say that the price point drives both the supply curve and the demand curve. Without changing the price points, market mechanisms will not solve the problems that face us today. In fact, the market mechanisms based on "free" air, "free" water, "free" ecosystem and "free" garbage disposal are what got us into trouble in the first place.

Jim Johnston,