The Morality of Market Mechanisms

13 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2016

See all articles by Lucia Ann Silecchia

Lucia Ann Silecchia

Catholic University of America (CUA) - Columbus School of Law

Leslie Carothers

Environmental Law Institute

Bob Perciasepe

Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES)

Caroline Farrell

Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

In Pope Francis’ Encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, the leader of the Catholic church presents a moral argument for combating climate change and other environmental harm. As he has done throughout his papacy, the Pope highlights concerns about economic disparity, arguing that climate change disproportionally impacts developing nations and the world’s poor. Along with critiques of “consumerism” and the modern economic system, the Pope expressed deep skepticism about the motives and impacts of market mechanisms as emissions reduction tools. The Pope is not the first to challenge the ethics of market-based systems of environmental protection. Critics have argued that buying and selling pollution rights removes the moral stigma of pollution and that inequity is built into the system by allowing the rich to buy their way out of pollution reduction regimes. Others have worried that market systems can create pollution hotspots. But many others in the environmental community, particularly in the United States, have come to see market-based mechanisms as a potent, cost-effective, and morally and legally defensible way to achieve pollution reduction goals. On October 1, 2015, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) convened an expert panel to discuss the Pope’s position, its bearing on global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and how market-based methods of pollution control serve, or fail to serve, sustainability goals. Below we present a transcript of the discussion, which has been edited for style, clarity, and space considerations.

Suggested Citation

Silecchia, Lucia Ann and Carothers, Leslie and Perciasepe, Bob and Farrell, Caroline, The Morality of Market Mechanisms (2016). Environmental Law Reporter, Vol. 46, Pp. 10006 (I-2016); CUA Columbus School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-2. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2723996

Lucia Ann Silecchia (Contact Author)

Catholic University of America (CUA) - Columbus School of Law ( email )

3600 John McCormack Rd., NE
Washington, DC 20064
United States
(202) 319-5560 (Phone)
(202) 319-4459 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.cua.edu/fac_staff/SilecchiaL/

Leslie Carothers

Environmental Law Institute ( email )

1730 M St. NW
Ste 700
Washington, DC 20036-4915
United States
203-804-2590 (Phone)
202-939-3868 (Fax)

Bob Perciasepe

Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES)

2101 Wilson Boulevard
Suite 550
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Caroline Farrell

Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment

1012 Jefferson Street
Delano, CA 93215
United States

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