It’s the environmentalists!
Or, more accurately, some environmentalists. It turns out that, while the business-as-usual folks are ranting about the “socialist” plan to destroy the free market, a few grass-roots groups such as Rising Tide North America are protesting the cap-and-trade bill because it is based on the market.
Rising Tide uses “a bottom-up approach to connecting the dots between oil, war, capitalism, coal, and the destabilization of the global climate.” They are trying to achieve a solution to climate change that is “democratically determined,” “locally managed,” “guided by principles of economic justice,” and “free from the influence of major polluters.” In their view, carbon trading has none of these qualities. They have even set up a website featuring “350 Reasons Why Carbon Trading Won’t Work.”
Meanwhile, more and more businesses are voicing support for cap-and-trade legislation. By now, you’ve probably heard that a number of high-profile companies, including Nike, Apple, Pacific Gas and Energy, and Exelon left the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of its opposition to energy reform. As Grist reported, even Microsoft’s Rob Bernard wrote in an e-mail that “The views expressed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce do not reflect Microsoft’s position on climate change and we are not participating in their climate initiatives.” The significance of this is that major corporations that are not branded as “green” feel a need to distance themselves from the business-as-usual crowd.
Furthermore, hundreds of corporate leaders have joined We Can Lead, a coalition of American businesses calling for government action on climate change. In the interview below, Jeffrey Hollender, co-founder of Seventh Generation, explains why capitalists and entrepreneurs like him support for the clean energy bill: “the fact that we should be responsible for the effect we have on other people, anyone who tells you that’s anti-capitalist is crazy.”
He concludes that climate legislation is “right for business, right for the economy, right for jobs, and good for the future of the country.”
So what we have here is a “kill capitalism” bill that is supported by profit-minded businesspeople and opposed by activists who are openly wary of capitalism.*
Really, to call a carbon market socialism makes no sense. What could be more capitalistic than turning pollution into a commodity?
*Note that groups like Rising Tide do not represent the majority of environmental advocates.