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COLUMN: Free enterprise can do what governments cannot

"The solution is to incentivize industry to use processes and create products that do not emit greenhouse gases."
McLeod Brian-mug
Columnist Brian McLeod

We have long passed the need to continue arguing about climate change. Data available shows, clearly, earth’s average temperature keeps increasing - and since we already know greenhouse gases trap heat, the cause for global warming is clearly manmade. We are running out of time.

However, the debate we need to have (and which really hasn’t occurred yet) is how to solve the problem. In this vacuum, local, provincial and federal governments have stumbled to try and “manage” the problem and create solutions. Personally, I have no faith in the government’s ability to solve this or any other problem. Take, for instance, when Edmonton’s mayor launched a program to end homelessness in Edmonton. The problem still exists today. Thousands of other examples are also available. Our governments have proven themselves incapable of solving these problems, and their efforts generally result in staggering losses of money, endless bureaucrats creating confusion and delays, and solutions that, at best, do not work, or at worst, make the problems far worse. We need a better idea, and now.    

Fortunately, this better idea is staring us in the face. Our economic way of life in North America, has shown itself incredibly efficient and fast at adjusting products and processes to solve very difficult problems. When consumers are also demanding these products, the companies become even faster at providing new solutions. Free enterprise, while it certainly has many negative consequences, is also a very effective problem solver. Our governments have approached the problem with the same stale, tired solutions that they always use: fines, penalties, prohibitions, injunctions and the usual “punishment” approach they take to all problems. Trudeau’s carbon tax is another great example of stale, tired thinking that offers nothing except more punishment. This approach hasn’t worked, isn’t working and will likely never work. 

The solution is to incentivize industry to use processes and create products that do not emit greenhouse gases. If consumers demand products of this nature, industry will quickly learn how to make these products. However, if consumer demand is not sufficient to generate this conversion, then why not have governments reward companies for doing the same thing? On a daily basis, we are seeing new products becoming available, made without releasing greenhouse gases, and which do not emit these same gases. The change we need is already underway (Tesla, alone, is adequate proof of this conversion). What we need to do is increase the incentives available to industry, and progress will be breath-taking.

They say the definition of insanity is “anyone who does things the same old way but expects to get different results”. So it is with our governments. Free enterprise, despite its many problems, is an incredibly fast problem solver, and our society is already structured to adopt and implement these solutions. Let’s tell our politicians we don’t want the same stale and tired approach - instead, we want them to harness the power of free enterprise and create solutions that stop climate change. If we do, I think you will be stunned at just how fast this can be accomplished. 

There is no longer any time left to accept failure. Let’s start using a method proven to work well, work quickly and work successfully.