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Date published: 2010/10/30
The BBC says:
The World Bank has launched a global partnership aimed at helping countries include the costs of destroying nature into their national accounts.
The bank's president Robert Zoellick said environmental destruction happens partly because governments do not account for the value of nature.
The partnership was launched at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting in Nagoya, Japan.
"We know that human well-being depends on ecosystems and biodiversity," said Mr Zoellick.
"We also know they're degrading at an alarming rate.
"One of the causes is our failure to properly value ecosystems and all they do for us - and the solution therefore lies in taking full account of our ecosystem services when countries make policies."
Norway's Environment Minister Erik Solheim said re-valuing nature in this way would force business practices to change.
"We need to move from a situation where the benefits of ecosystem services are privatised whereas the coasts are socialised," he said.
"The full costs of negative impacts on ecosystems must be covered by those who receive a benefit from destroying it."
The new project aims to pick up conclusions of a recent UN-backed project on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (Teeb), and help governments turn them into policy.
Teeb's headline conclusion was that degradation of the natural world is costing the global economy $2-5 trillion (£1.3-3.2bn) per year.
The most significant remark is the one by Solheim: "The full costs of negative impacts on ecosystems must be covered by those who receive a benefit from destroying it." It would be interesting to know if Solheim, or anyone else, could come up with any example of any development anywhere in the world that would be deemed to be a case where this happened. For example, under this proposal, no government should be allowed to subsidise any service for anyone. If you subsidise a service, then you are in effect externalising the costs of the service onto the rest of society. In particular, those who benefit from the service then have more money to spend elsewhere, and that money, directly or indirectly, equates to energy use, and that in turn, directly or indirectly, equates to environmental impact (or "destruction", as the zealots would have it). The logical conclusion is that there should be no government welfare, no free education (primary, secondary or tertiary), no free health service, etc. Well, needless to say, the Solheims of the world do not want to stop those activities. They just want to stop activities they happen not to like. If any kind of statutory regime is created for this, then in the UK, for example, this could easily mean that pretty much all infrastructure projects are not allowed, because some NIMBY or so-called environmentalist or other will always be able to easily point out that the people benefitting from the project are not fully paying for any alleged environmental impact.
And needless to say, the rich people of the world, like Zoellick and Solheim and all the other people attending the Nagoya meeting, are the main culprits when it comes to environmental impact ("destruction").
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