The need for regulations to protect the environment often gets widespread but grudging acceptance: widespread because everyone wants a healthy, liveable planet, grudging because of the belief that environmental regulations place increased burdens on business and raises their costs. The prevailing view is that there is a trade-off: environment versus the economy.
On one side of the trade-off are the social benefits that arise from strict environmental standards: cleaner rivers and air, natural resources for future generations to use. On the other are industry’s private costs for prevention and cleanup: costs that lead to higher prices for inputs and reduced competitiveness. But this static view of environmental regulation, in which everything except regulation is held constant, is incorrect. Read the rest of this entry »
Globally, there are major challenges confronting us. A major trend on the planet is increasing urbanisation, as an expected four billion people move from rural to urban living in the next 50 years: they all want and need clean water, clean power and clean transportation. At the same time we face the challenges of climate change (or what Amory Lovins, of Rocky Mountain Institute fame, has termed ‘global weirding’). Atmospheric CO2 levels are at an all-time high, with accelerating growth related to our consumption of increasingly expensive and depleting fossil fuels. Domestically, the recent devastating floods and cyclone hitting Qld, and the floods of NSW and Vic, have resulted in severe damage to welfare and infrastructure. It has also lead to the reallocation of Federal and State budgets towards repair. This could potentially mean less grants funding for the manufacturing sector, especially SMEs, meaning alternative funding sources need to be identified. Read the rest of this entry »