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Argument: Free trade and markets benefit the environment

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Supporting evidence

  • “Is Globalization Causing A 'Race To The Bottom' In Environmental Standards?”A 1998 World Bank study of organic water pollution found that pollution intensity fell by 90 per cent as per capita income rose from $500 to $20,000, with the fastest decline occurring before the country reached middle income status (Figure 6. Hettige, Mani and Wheeler, 1998). Average air quality in China has stabilized or improved since the mid-1980s in monitored cities, especially large ones - the same period during which China has experienced both rapid economic growth and increased openness to trade and investment.
  • “Is Globalization Causing A 'Race To The Bottom' In Environmental Standards?” In East Asia in the 1970s, . the fast growing "Tigers" (Korea, Taiwan (China), Singapore and Hong Kong) began to export more of certain highly polluting sectors, while Japan began to reduce its exports in these sectors. However, this trend diminished in the 1980s, and a stable pattern emerged with the Tigers importing somewhat more than they export in the highly-polluting sectors. A similar pattern occurred in trade of polluting sector products between North America and Latin America. In China the share of the five dirtiest industries in total industrial output has fallen, while imports of pollution intensive products have actually increased. (World Bank, 1997).

Markets and free trade do better than state-intervention in producing positive environmental results

  • Martin Wolf, Why Globalization Works?. Yale University Press. 2004. ISBN 0-300-10777-3. pp 56. - "Business is supposedly indifferent to the environment. That, indeed, is one of the principal criticisms of a market economy. Yet, we now know that supposedly benevolent state-socialist economies were environmental catastrophes. The market economy has avoided these disasters for at least four reasons: first, it provides the means for independent critics of environmental abuses to flourish; second, it generates the prosperity that makes people concerned about the environment; third, it implies a separation between companies and the government that makes independent regulation possible; and finally, companies are concerned about their reputations and will act to protect them, in response to campaigning against them. For these reasons, effective environmental pressure groups have emerged only in market democracies."

Companies must maintain an environmentally sound reputation or suffer market consequences


See also

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