We need to add one word to this to make it true.
Nationally, other market mechanisms are required to encourage individuals to change their behaviour. We have recently dealt with other environmental market failures with remarkable success. Acid rain resulting from burning high sulphur content coal has virtually been eliminated; the loss of ozone from the stratosphere due to CFCs has been halted; pollution in our cities due to car exhaust fumes has been massively reduced. And with each of these measures, our economy and the well-being of our citizens have been improved.
That one word is "despite". Yes, the economy has continued to grow as we have put these various mechanisms in place. But it has done so despite such measures, not because of them. For they are costs of course, things which drag at the economy\’s growth.
That isn\’t to say that they are undersirable things to have done: the well-being of citizens extends to a much greater number of possible measurements than simply increases in GDP. But only by recognising that such attempts to clean up pollution are costs (and yes, they may well be costs worth bearing) can we make the decisions about whether to make such efforts and if that is agreed, then how?
For example, with the cleaning up of car exhaust fumes, did we ban all those which emitted above a certain level? No, we didn\’t, we made rules about what standards new machines must meet and then let the normal turnover of the stock change the output of the entire fleet. Similarly, looking at the larger picture, should we immediately close Drax? No, but we might want to insist (or not of course, but we should at the very minimum be working with the normal technological and capital turnover so as to reduce costs) that new stations incorporate carbon capture. Or that no new coal stations should be built, whatever.
My point here isn\’t to say that one or other technology is or isn\’t required, it\’s just to make the point that we don\’t want to rip up those things we\’ve already paid for. We want to, if at all, change the new things which will be built and thus change the stock over time, rather than all at once.
And it\’s only by recognising that such changes do indeed have a cost, that the economy grows *despite* the new burdens we place upon it, not *because* of these new burdens that we\’ll make clear the need to do so.