Libertarianz Praises New UN Environment Report

31 March 2005 15:26:00


Consternation today as, for perhaps the first time, the Libertarianz party welcomes a new United Nations report on the environment. “I know it’s shocking,” says Libertarianz Environment Spokesman Peter Cresswell, “but for once the UN has got it right. It seems they now recognise that environmental degradation would be best reduced by more trade, more economic growth and less taxation and less interference by Governments. In short, by more freedom, and less government.”

The UN’s ‘Millennium Ecosystem Assessment’ seeks to measure the world’s environment at the end of the millennium, and to look for ways forward. “And as this report makes clear,” says Cresswell, “the way forward is the introduction of property rights, free markets and the rule of law where these things either do not exist, or exist as they do here in New Zealand in an emasculated state.

“Of course, the report contains the usual dopy litanies about where environmental degradation exists and in what quantities – has there been a worse environmental basket-case than the centrally-planned and thankfully now-collapsed Soviet Eastern Europe?” wonders Cresswell in an aside – “but by and large the report recognises that the overwhelming preponderance of damage is caused by that well-known problem, the Tragedy of the Commons.

“That is to say,” says Cresswell, “the problems of pollution, algae blooms, over-fishing, water shortages (most especially the ‘over-mining’ of aquifers), the destruction of tropical forests and their biodiversity and so on are not caused by too many people with too much wealth – the fact that most of these problems exist most often in places where there is little wealth and low population density demonstrates the falsity of that claim. The fact is that these problems exist where freedom and free-markets do not.

“Fortunately, the answers to the problems created by the Tragedy of the Commons are as well-known as the problem itself,” concludes Cresswell, “and for once the UN has got it right. As the report suggests in part:

[a] wide range of opportunities exists to influence human behavior to address this challenge in the form of economic and financial instruments. Some of them establish markets; others work through the monetary and financial interests of the targeted social actors; still others affect relative prices.

Elimination of subsidies that promote excessive use of ecosystem services

Greater use of economic instruments and market-based approaches in the management of ecosystem services

Payment for ecosystem services

Mechanisms to enable consumer preferences to be expressed through markets

“The answer, as the report makes clear, is more markets and less government interference,” concludes Cresswell. “We need greater legal protection for property rights and less interference by planners and busybodies; we need, in short, more freedom and less government. Perhaps we could begin here in New Zealand by abolishing the RMA, and reinstating the common law of seven centuries that has been buried by regulation and central planning.”

For further information please contact:
Peter Cresswell
(09) 631 0034

Libertarianz – More Freedom – Less Government