Colin James on the Greens

Colin James has a thoughtful column on the Greens and environmentalists.

I quote the last three paragraphs, which I think are pertinent:

The GM food stance sounded extreme in 2002. It was a hardline regulatory approach. Much of the rest of the Greens’ approach is similarly regulatory. They suspect the market and its instruments. Though most Greens are splendid people, you can get the impression from being around them that they also suspect humans.

But if sceptical humans are to be taken along a more environmentally sustainable route, regulation is hardly likely to get them to go willingly. The market and its instruments are proving more effective in other fields because they coax more than goad. Logically the same will increasingly apply in environmental issues.

Labour is slowly learning that lesson, against the grain of its own instinctively regulatory tradition. Maybe it is time for the Greens to do some of the same sort of learning. For all our sakes.

Personally I’m a big fan of using the market rather than regulations. They are at their best (in my view) on animal welfare issues but at their worst when (for example) having a go at the Warehouse for stocking big easter eggs. I mean who really wants MPs telling companies that their easter eggs can only go up to a certain size etc.

The Greens’ Frog has his/her comments blogged.

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