Free Market Environmentalism (FME) is an approach to environmental problems that focuses on improving environmental quality using property rights and markets. It emphasizes three important points:
- Markets, property rights, and the rule of law are fundamental to economic growth, and economic growth is fundamental to improving environmental quality. There is a strong correlation between treatment of the environment and standards of living.
- Property rights make the environment an asset rather than a liability by giving owners an incentive for stewardship.
- Markets and the process of exchange give people who have different ideas and values regarding the use of natural resources a way of cooperating rather than fighting. When cooperation supplants conflict, gains from trade emerge.
FME allows PERC to view environmental challenges through a different lens and promote common-sense solutions such as:
Developing policies for 'trading' water to protect stream flows (see Saving Our Streams);
Analyzing climate change policies (see Trading Forest Carbon: A Panacea or a Pipe Dream to Address Climate Change?);
Working to create individual fishing quotas to eliminate marine overfishing (see Helping Property Rights Evolve in Marine Fisheries);
Finding ways to improve the efficacy of conservation easements (see Conservation Easements: A Closer Look at Federal Tax Policy);
Enticing entrepreneurs to invest in the environment by demonstrating the benefits of aligning business with conservation at PERC's Enviropreneur Institute;
Advocating new management strategies for public lands that link fiscal responsibility with environmental stewardship (see Branching Out: Case Studies in Canadian Forest Management).
Visit FME in Action for further examples and case studies.
In this video, Terry Anderson explains how free market environmentalism emerged from the Montana ethic.