It’s Not Easy Going Green: The Green Paradox

Faced with reducing reliance on fossil fuels, Michael and Kimberly explore ‘The Green Paradox’, created by companies racing to cash in before governments enact policies regulating pollution.

Episode 9


A country finally attempts to implement more stringent fossil fuel regulations and before the law is even passed (or not, in the case of the U.S.), the policy sends companies on a spree to mine, dig, and drill as quickly as possible. This ‘Green Paradox’ raises the question of how on Earth humans are going to meet the UN’s Climate Change COP28 goals in time to avoid planetary meltdown.

Harold Hotelling’s 1935 theory of extraction set up Hans-Werner Sinn’s ‘The Green Paradox’, which holds up under rigorous study. Faced with faster extraction, governments need to keep emissions in check, but confront obstacles at home and abroad. Michael and Kimberly consider how quickly it is possible to feasibly enact achievable policies that simultaneously protect domestic businesses and politicians’ seats, while avoiding ‘spatial carbon leakage’.

Tune in as Michael and Kimberly lay out the pros and cons of the Cap & Trade System, numerous sectors—even the clothing industry—are affected by emissions targets, and why even the most evolved IGO in the world regularly deals with groups protesting everything from farm policies to bans on combustion engines. And for more about the issues, check out Kimberly’s Substack notes.

Key Topics

  • Whether the UN’s ambitious ‘global stocktake’ to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions will be foiled by an army of Jolly Green Giant Paradoxes

  • How the capitalist market encourages Green Paradoxes, not only in the fossil fuel industry, but in other sectors affected by climate change policy

  • Why the international community and individual countries struggle to counter the effects of a Green Paradox

  • The variety of ways Big Oil has worked to stall being displaced by greener alternatives

  • How the EU’s ETS, the US’s Waxman-Markey Climate Bill, and China’s 14th Five-Year Plan have fallen prey to The Green Paradox

  • Why Michael and Kimberly remain optimistic about tackling climate change, despite evidence stacked up against global efforts to mitigate pollution

Recommended Resources

What would Kermit do? It's not easy going green
(or turning a toad into a frog, for that matter).