Bootleggers, Baptists, and the Global Warming Battle

Tuesday, December 1, 1998

By Bruce Yandle and Stuart Buck


Our article addresses the Kyoto Protocol in light of Prof. Yandle's "bootleggers and Baptists" theory of regulation, a subset of the economic theory of regulation. The theory's name is meant to evoke 19th century laws banning alcohol sales on Sundays. Baptists supported Sunday closing laws for moral and religious reasons, while bootleggers were eager to stifle their legal competition. Thus, politicians were able to pose as acting in the interests of public morality, even while taking contributions from bootleggers. We argue that a similar phenomenon took place in the battle over the Kyoto Protocol, where the "Baptist" environmental groups provided moral support while "bootlegger" corporations and nations worked in the background to seek economic advantages over their rivals.

Media Source: 
Harvard Environmental Law Journal
Bruce Yandle is a consultant, writer and speaker on economics and political economy. He is Mercatus Center Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Economics at George Mason University and participates regulatory in the Center’s Capitol Hill lecture series. Yandle is Dean Emeritus of Clemson University’s College of Business & Behavioral Science and...
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