The concept of “sustainable development” is widely embraced by businesses around the world. Pressure from the United Nations, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and environmental activists to promote sustainable development has led to economically harmful and environmentally counterproductive policies that have resulted in completely unsustainable practices.
Not everything that travels under the “sustainability” banner benefits the environment, and much of it hurts businesses and consumers. Sustainability initiatives violate property rights and threaten jobs and domestic production of energy and natural resources.
Small businesses are coming to realize that major companies are shoving sustainability standards down the throats of their suppliers while taking credit for being “green.” Their motivation is an example of the unholy alliances formed by true believers and corporate leaders seeking to profit at their competitors’ expense, what economist Bruce Yandle calls “Baptists and Bootleggers.”
True sustainable development improves living standards. It allows people to develop and use new technologies and best practices that conserve resources and reduce waste and pollution. It gives people incentives to choose the most efficient energy and mineral sources and to abandon them once better ones are found.