Extinction Rebellion has not been afraid to court controversy. This strategy has been successful in garnering widespread media attraction. Take for example when, in October 2019, protesters attempted to spray fake blood onto the building of HM Treasury which led to headlines in virtually every major media outlet. Such action, and the narrative spun by Extinction Rebellion, has effectively made alternative, more credible, solutions all the more appealing.
Last weekend, Extinction Rebellion protestors blocked routes to major newspapers in an attempt to “free the truth”, denying many the right to access and read newspapers. Civil disobedience is a key stratagem through which Extinction Rebellion aims to achieve its objectives, often leading to the disruption to lives and livelihoods. There is a complete disregard for the rights and liberties of others in pursuit of a dogmatic and zealous ideology. Last year, protestors disrupted the commute for thousands by standing atop trains at Stanford, Canning Town and Shadwell during rush hour.
Extinction Rebellion hide their socialist agenda behind the popular notion of environmental conservation, while their rhetoric revolves around pandering to fears and pessimism. Their environmental ambitions focus on the idea of achieving net-zero by 2025, which would require every section of our economy and society reliant upon carbon-emitting energy to cease. This not only includes energy production but industries, commerce and transportation. Once again, no considerations are made to those that would suffer the most in pursuit of this objective, or the damage it would wreak upon all our lives.
Rather than garner more support, Extinction Rebellion effectively pushes away those that may potentially support them, instead making credible alternatives all the more attractive. Not entirely surprising when gloomy rhetoric is buttressed by divisive action.
While Extinction Rebellion has been propagating doom and gloom and providing zero credible alternatives, free-market environmentalists have been making the case for business-friendly, sensible and innovative solutions through which to tackle climate change.
Rather than seek to unravel hundreds of years of human progress and reverse crucial economic steps such as liberalisation of markets and free trade, free-market environmentalists seek to utilise policies that take full advantage of the innovative and dynamic market system that has lifted millions out of poverty. Such solutions would not destroy businesses or jobs, but harness competitive markets to improve our economic system so that is far more environmentally sensitive.
Carbon taxes, encouraging clean free trade agreements, more competitive water markets and private conservationism are all policies that are championed by free marketeers. A number of such policies have already been adopted, one notable one being fishing quotas and privatising fishing rights, which is commonly used.
This is not to say that governments do not have a role in protecting our planet, indeed they do. Protecting property rights, maintaining sensible environmental regulation and incentivising behaviours that help achieve environmental objectives are to name a few ways through which the government may play a role. The divergence between free-market environmentalists and Extinction Rebellion is what role governments should take, and indeed what relationship government should maintain with its citizens.
If Extinction Rebellion continues to employ increasing radical tactics to convey its message, it will continue to haemorrhage more supporters to alternative ideological groups that seek to conserve our environment without destroying our entire way of life. There could be no greater friend to free-market environmentalism than an increasingly radical group that preys upon fear rather than inspires hope.