Firm science indicates that people globally need to do more to protect the Earth’s natural systems, but the vast sums of money spent by governments in pursuit of this are making slow progress. Despite the likes of the USA funneling over $5 billion per year into climate change, according to World Resource Institute figures, the influential Climate Action Tracker has found that emissions continue to rise. Rather than pumping money into the hole of green initiative finance, libertarian policies offer a third way that will help to create a greener planet.

Strengthening green energy

Green energy is generally accepted as a good thing. Solar and wind power reduce pollution in the air, are more cost effective over time, and as technology advances, will no longer restrict productivity. However, subsidies for green energy are often harmful; one World Economic Forum analysis noted the exorbitantly high cost of German energy due to the overhaul of their nuclear-led energy infrastructure.

Libertarian principles offer a way through which green energy can become a success without impinging on individual liberties. In March 2019, PBS reported on Texas mayor Dale Ross, a self-identified libertarian. Running a minimum-size bureaucracy, his city actively sought out energy contracts with green suppliers, offering them the opportunity to run in a free market against fossil fuel interests. As a result, the town is now powered by 100% green energy, and is a great indicator of the potential for libertarian-driven energy policies.

Treating climate as a market

The past few years has seen the meteoric rise of ‘green bonds’. According to Bloomberg figures, 2012 saw only $4.2 billion in green bonds issued, compared to $176.8 billion in 2018While many libertarians will be uncomfortable with any form of state bond, green bonds are differentiated in their focus towards clean technology and start ups. Green bonds provide a more palatable and equitable way in which to put money into green energy which is, ultimately, libertarian, and has provided huge benefits already. Providing a benefit to citizens, instead of a panicked tax, is a legitimate tactic to help fund new initiatives.

Reversing counter-intuitive policies

Many policies that have been enacted by big-government advocates have had unintended environmental consequences. For example, the ‘dam busting’ process that led to a cessation of dam building in 1964 has, according to Grist, limited hydroelectric power generation and provided a boon to coal. This is as clear an indication as any that where artificial barriers are put in place, the market will provide alternatives. A libertarian focused policy bank, where the best possible option is directed over ideology, will help to drive better ideas in the future.

Climate change is real, and it is happening. However, heavy-handed government drives for what they dictate as the ‘best’ option are inefficient. Using libertarian principles, the party – and the country – can create a greener world.

Jennifer Oswald