Extinction Rebellion protests are economic and climate nonsense
Activists often make absurd arguments about how reducing inequalities is essential to protect the environment. It’s easy to get “likes” on social media with blindingly obvious statements, like that the wealthy are more likely to fly. But while a more equitable distribution of wealth and income may be a “good thing” for other reasons, here it could simply allow more people to afford to do things that could harm the planet. .
Likewise, it is absurd to blame capitalism for climate change. Nationalizing a business alone would not change anything. Pollution is at least as bad – probably worse – in socialist countries and centrally planned economies. Just look at the recent record of Mexican state-owned oil giant Pemex.
In summary, climate change is real and exacerbated by human activity. But that doesn’t justify collapsing the economy or becoming off-grid hermits, and questioning whether the proposed answers are reasonable or proportionate shouldn’t make you sound like a ‘climate change denier’.
Above all, the environment is the safest in the hands of capitalist economies where individuals, whether consumers or investors, are free to make their own choices, and where market mechanisms, such as carbon taxes, may be the most effective. In contrast, outright bans on lending to companies in the fossil fuel industries would be awkward and counterproductive.
Julian Jessop is a freelance economist and tweets @julianhjessop