Free Market Environmentalism

Free Market Environmentalism 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 natural resources a way to cooperate rather than fight. When cooperation supplants conflict, gains from trade emerge.

Since its original publication in 1991, Anderson and Leal’s Free Market Environmentalism text has helped shaped thinking about environmental problems.