"If you can make an old invention like the diesel engine run clean, you can make an even older invention, the national economy, run clean too." So says inventor Anders Höglund, one of Sweden's leading experts on control engineering of complex systems like engines, and inventor of the Flexible Emissions Fee Mechanism.
The Swedish Sustainable Economy Foundation, TSSEF, is launching a new range of Internet-based briefings on the subject of dynamic economy control, starting on the 6th May, with Flex Fees as the focus. The Mechanism, recently studied by a group working with the Nordic Council of Ministers, aims to get the market to "clean up its act itself". And Anders might be onto something, as the basic idea of the mechanism has been suggested by climate scientist James Hansen, who was one of the first to warn about global warming, and endorsed by the founder of the Natural Step, Karl-Henrik Robért.
Anders Höglund explains:"We establish a fee to, for example, bring oil products like fuel into the country. We raise the fee at regular intervals, and by a sufficiently high amount until the market responds by introducing alternative non-polluting approaches."
Responding to the criticism that fees tend to harm economic growth, Anders says; " the other part of the mechanism is the feeding back of money collected to taxpayers. They will have money to buy products, it is just that ones that pollute will be relatively more expensive".
Unlike other approaches, the Flex mechanisms simple leaves it up to the market to respond. And the Flex mechanism works with the markets. Says Anders "most businesses have invested heavily in technology that is fossil-based. To have to pull out to fast will harm the bottom line. Our mechanism pushes development but only to limit, that limit is the speed with which competition and new technology work their magic".