For Lucy (should I find her)

The recent decision by the French government to scrap the CO2 tax was welcome news: it was from the outset mostly a complicated design to satisfy two major interests, quite removed from any environmental concern.

First, the French state’s insatiable demand for revenues; second, seducing the ecologist lobby and giving the impression that France is proactively contributing to the fight against CO2 emissions.

Redistributive justice on an international scale however yields some very selfish (in this case national) reflexes: the French share of CO2 emissions is quite small (some 1 per cent of the total). Here ends the solidarity (and there are other concerns, ahem, and they may be more interesting for president Sarkozy at international meetings).

End of story? No: if a EU solution can be had, then of course the saga continues. New sponsors apply here.

Fiction is probably more indicative of the direction of future political initiatives. I recently watched both Avatar and Oceans.

Avatar is not exactly subliminal in its political cue; nevertheless breathtaking thanks to its use of technology that only a free market system could produce (but of course indirectly condemned by the script). In fairness, as my friend at the Cato Institute David Boaz forcefully pointed out, the conflict concerns property rights and not primarily environmental havoc.

Oceans is a wonderful production; thankfully, the commentary is minimal and the political discourse is practically absent (except a jibe about the Arctic being soon open for exploitation because of melting glaciers). Still, the message is clear: man is upsetting the “natural equilibrium” (whenever this existed) and man is responsible for exterminating a number of species.

We should also note, perhaps, that scientists estimate that some 99 per cent of the hundreds of million animal species formed since planet Earth emerged have since disappeared. Apologies all around; this happened sometime before Enron, Greenpeace, GW Bush, N. Korea, Ebola and DDT. And no, these fellows were not active when the dinosaurs were massacred (although most of them had just signed the Biodiversity treaty, according to eyewitnesses).

As Bjorn Lomborg pointed out recently, fear is not a good ally for sound policy. The IPCC has taken and perhaps weathered some serious criticism; that’s the way to go. The game is afoot.

Photos: freedigitalphotos

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About the Author: Jacob Arfwedson

Jacob Arfwedson first worked on environmental issues with the ICREI (Paris) in the early 1990s (www.icrei.org). He has published extensively on various free market issues, working with some 20 think tanks in Europe and the US for the past 20 years. He received his MA from the Catholic University of Paris before studying at the Catholic University of America (Timbro Capitol Fellowship). His articles have been published by the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, le Figaro and AGEFI Switzerland.