Saturday, June 27, 2015

Market Based Green Growth: Natural Capital and Sustainable Economic Growth (Videos)

Green growth that factors natural capital can drive competitiveness and power innovation for generations. Resource productivity alone is a $3 trillion opportunity. We must start with the understanding that the  choice between the economy and the environment is a false choice. As demonstrated by countries like Germany, we can increase our productivity while decreasing our emissions. To green our economies we must determine the true economic value of our resources which means we must ensure that markets factor the environmental costs of a product or service.

Factoring the actual costs allows us to decouple environmental impacts from economic growth. Countries that use scarce resources more productively are more resilient and they can also export this knowledge globally. 

Natural capital is what nature provides to us for free. In the face of the global, local, and national destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems, economist Dieter Helm here offers a crucial set of strategies for establishing natural capital policy that is balanced, economically sustainable, and politically viable. Helm shows why the commonly held view that environmental protection poses obstacles to economic progress is false, and he explains why the environment must be at the very core of economic planning. He presents the first real attempt to calibrate, measure, and value natural capital from an economic perspective and goes on to outline a stable new framework for sustainable growth. Read more at

Researchers at the Arizona State and Yale are working to calculate the dollar value of nature in an effort to promote sustainability. Last June they published a landmark study that assigns monetary value to natural capital. The report was published in the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists. The paper argues for the creation of asset markets for natural capital.

In theory natural capital valuation would increase conservation efforts. The idea is that what goes unmeasured often gets undervalued. For example, reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico were valued at around $3 a pound in 2004, but after policy makers implemented reforms that incentivize conservation the price jumped to $9 a pound. Elephants are another example as explained in an MNN article they are worth 76 times more alive than it is dead.

While the goal is to make human behavior less destructive to the environment, the actual outcome may be at odds with what is being sought. This dangers of turning nature into a commodity is reviewed in perspective in an article titled, "Rhino Horn Economics."

Related Articles
The Monetary Value of Toronto's Trees
Rhino Horn Economics: The Perils of Putting a Price on Nature
Video - Pricing Nature is Far Harder than you Think
UNEP's NCD Roadmap: Implementing the Four Commitments of the Natural Capital Declaration
UNEP's Natural Capital Declaration (NCD)
A Response to UNEP's Natural Capital Declaration
The Vital Role of Forests: Carbon, Rain and Food
The Financial Value and Costs Associated with Biodiversity

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