Free Market Environmentalism (FME) is an approach to environmental problems that focuses on improving environmental quality using property rights and markets. It emphasizes three important points:
- Markets, property rights, and the rule of law are fundamental to economic growth, and economic growth is fundamental to improving environmental quality. There is a strong correlation between treatment of the environment and standards of living.
- Property rights make the environment an asset rather than a liability by giving owners an incentive for stewardship.
- Markets and the process of exchange give people who have different ideas and values regarding the use of natural resources a way of cooperating rather than fighting. When cooperation supplants conflict, gains from trade emerge.
FME allows PERC to view environmental challenges through a different lens and promote common-sense solutions such as:
Developing policies for 'trading' water to protect stream flows (see Saving Our Streams);
Analyzing climate change policies (see Trading Forest Carbon: A Panacea or a Pipe Dream to Address Climate Change?);
Working to create individual fishing quotas to eliminate marine overfishing (see Helping Property Rights Evolve in Marine Fisheries);
Finding ways to improve the efficacy of conservation easements (see Conservation Easements: A Closer Look at Federal Tax Policy);
Enticing entrepreneurs to invest in the environment by demonstrating the benefits of aligning business with conservation at PERC's Enviropreneur Institute;
Advocating new management strategies for public lands that link fiscal responsibility with environmental stewardship (see Branching Out: Case Studies in Canadian Forest Management).