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  • on 29.06.2012
  • at 11:58 AM
  • by Randa Ghazy

At the crossroads between ‘Green Economy’ and rights of nature 0

Almost one thousand dolphins are lying dead on the beach. Another five thousand pelicans have also been found dead. What is the cause of this massacre?

There are different explanations. Some argue that it was the offshore oil exploration while others say that these birds are dying because anchovy, their main food, have disappeared as a result of the sudden heating of coastal waters due to climate change.

Whatever the explanation, the fact is that during the past months, the coasts off Peru have become the silent witness of what the capitalist system is doing to Nature.

In the period from 1970 to 2008, the Earth System has lost 30% of its biodiversity. In tropical areas, the loss has even been as high as 60%. This is not happening by accident. This is the result of an economic system that treats nature as a thing, as just a source of resources. For capitalists, nature is mainly an object to possess, exploit, transform and especially to profit from.

Green economy is about cheating nature while making profit out of it.
Humanity is at the edge of a cliff. Instead of recognizing that nature is our home and that we must respect the rights of all members of Earth’s community, transnational corporations are promoting more capitalism under the misleading name of “green economy.”

According to them, the mistake of capitalism that led us to this current multiple crises is that the free market had not gone far enough. And so with the “green economy,” capitalism is going to fully incorporate nature as part of capital. They are identifying specific functions of ecosystems and biodiversity that can be priced and then brought into a global market as “Natural Capital.”

In a report of EcosystemMarketplace.com, we can read a brutally frank description of what they are after when they speak of Green Economy:

“Given their enormous impact on our daily lives, it’s astounding that we don’t pay more attention, or dollars, to ecosystem services. Ecosystems provide trillions of dollars in clean water, flood protection, fertile lands, clean air, pollination, disease control – to mention just a few. These services are essential to maintaining liveable conditions and are delivered by the world’s largest utilities. Far larger in value and scale than any electric, gas, or water utility could possibly dream of. And the infrastructure, or hard assets, that generate these services are simply: healthy ecosystems.

So how do we secure this enormously valuable infrastructure and its services? The same way we would electricity, potable water, or natural gas. We pay for it.”

In simple terms, they will no longer just privatize material goods that can be taken from nature, such as wood from a forest. Instead, they want to go beyond that and privatize the functions and processes of nature, label them environmental services, put a price on them and bring them into the market. Already in the same report, they have estimated values for these environmental services for the years 2014, 2020 and beyond.

To illustrate, look at the leading example of “green economy,” the program called REDD (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). REDD’s purpose is to isolate one function of forests, their ability to capture and store carbon, and then measure how much CO2 it can capture. Once they have estimated the value of the potential carbon storage of the forest, carbon credits are issued and sold to rich countries and big corporations who use them as offsets, to buy and sell polluting permits in the carbon markets.

The new commodities of the REDD market will be financial papers or carbon credits, that will account for a certain amount of CO2 that a forest has not decreased in it’s storage.
For example, if Indonesia has a deforestation rate of 1,700,000 hectares per year and then next year instead of destroying this amount, they only deforest 1, 500,000 hectares, they will be able to sell in the REDD market, the carbon credits for the amount of CO2 that is stored by the 200, 000 hectares that was not deforested.

In essence, REDD provides a monetary incentive for not deforesting. However, this incentive has a doubly perverse effect.

First, the company of a country that buys those carbon credits will be able to keep polluting and releasing to the atmosphere that amount of CO2 they paid for. In other words, carbon credits are polluting permits for the rich.

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