Following frequent warnings from a variety of economists and environmentalists in the 1970s and 1980s, sustainable development and environmental issues have become part of the mainstream political agenda in most industrialized countries, and some have even been integrated into the strategies of firms. There is now a quasi-consensus around the world as to the long-term risks involved in the use of natural resources, climate change, etc.
However, for several years now some dissenting voices have been heard, including that of the Dane Bjørn Lomborg, who reckons that the warnings of environmental catastrophe have been overdone and that radically different conclusions can be drawn from the data at hand. For instance, he argues that the situation is improving steadily and there is no reason to fear problems with the environment because market forces will ensure that everything will turn out right.
Hard on the heels of a first analysis that focussed exclusively on ecological issues, Bjørn Lomborg launched the "Copenhagen consensus", an initiative bringing together a group of international experts, mainly economists (including several Nobel prizewinners), with the aim of identifying a list of priorities for action, relating to the environment and also poverty and underdevelopment. Max Falque has studied this initiative and its first results, which he outlines here, along with the main elements of Bjørn Lomborg's views.