[enviro-vlc] Nature loss 'dwarfs bank crisis' [2 articles to cheer you up]
vern.weitzel at gmail.com
Fri Oct 10 16:52:42 EST 2008
If I understand correctly, the interim report, released in May 2008
is the subject of this article. This may be downloaded at the EC site:
Page last updated at 00:23 GMT, Friday, 10 October 2008 01:23 UK
Nature loss 'dwarfs bank crisis'
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website, Barcelona
Losses are great, and continuous, says the report
The global economy is losing more money from the disappearance of forests than
through the current banking crisis, according to an EU-commissioned study.
It puts the annual cost of forest loss at between $2 trillion and $5 trillion.
The figure comes from adding the value of the various services that forests
perform, such as providing clean water and absorbing carbon dioxide.
The study, headed by a Deutsche Bank economist, parallels the Stern Review into
the economics of climate change.
It has been discussed during many sessions here at the World Conservation Congress.
Some conservationists see it as a new way of persuading policymakers to fund
nature protection rather than allowing the decline in ecosystems and species,
highlighted in the release on Monday of the Red List of Threatened Species, to
Speaking to BBC News on the fringes of the congress, study leader Pavan Sukhdev
emphasised that the cost of natural decline dwarfs losses on the financial markets.
"It's not only greater but it's also continuous, it's been happening every year,
year after year," he told BBC News.
Teeb will... show the risks we run by not valuing [nature] adequately."
Global Canopy Programme
"So whereas Wall Street by various calculations has to date lost, within the
financial sector, $1-$1.5 trillion, the reality is that at today's rate we are
losing natural capital at least between $2-$5 trillion every year."
The review that Mr Sukhdev leads, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity
(Teeb), was initiated by Germany under its recent EU presidency, with the
European Commission providing funding.
The first phase concluded in May when the team released its finding that forest
decline could be costing about 7% of global GDP. The second phase will expand
the scope to other natural systems.
Key to understanding his conclusions is that as forests decline, nature stops
providing services which it used to provide essentially for free.
So the human economy either has to provide them instead, perhaps through
building reservoirs, building facilities to sequester carbon dioxide, or farming
foods that were once naturally available.
Or we have to do without them; either way, there is a financial cost.
The Teeb calculations show that the cost falls disproportionately on the poor,
because a greater part of their livelihood depends directly on the forest,
especially in tropical regions.
The greatest cost to western nations would initially come through losing a
natural absorber of the most important greenhouse gas.
Just as the Stern Review brought the economics of climate change into the
political arena and helped politicians see the consequences of their policy
choices, many in the conservation community believe the Teeb review will lay
open the economic consequences of halting or not halting the slide in biodiversity.
"The numbers in the Stern Review enabled politicians to wake up to reality,"
said Andrew Mitchell, director of the Global Canopy Programme, an organisation
concerned with directing financial resources into forest preservation.
"Teeb will do the same for the value of nature, and show the risks we run by not
valuing it adequately."
A number of nations, businesses and global organisations are beginning to direct
funds into forest conservation, and there are signs of a trade in natural
ecosystems developing, analogous to the carbon trade, although it is clearly
very early days.
Some have ethical concerns over the valuing of nature purely in terms of the
services it provides humanity; but the counter-argument is that decades of
trying to halt biodiversity decline by arguing for the intrinsic worth of nature
have not worked, so something different must be tried.
Whether Mr Sukhdev's arguments will find political traction in an era of
financial constraint is an open question, even though many of the governments
that would presumably be called on to fund forest protection are the ones
directly or indirectly paying for the review.
But, he said, governments and businesses are getting the point.
"Times have changed. Almost three years ago, even two years ago, their eyes
would glaze over.
"Today, when I say this, they listen. In fact I get questions asked - so how do
you calculate this, how can we monetize it, what can we do about it, why don't
you speak with so and so politician or such and such business."
The aim is to complete the Teeb review by the middle of 2010, the date by which
governments are committed under the Convention of Biological Diversity to have
begun slowing the rate of biodiversity loss.
Richard.Black-INTERNET at bbc.co.uk
Press Briefing with Pavan Sukhdev in Washington to Discuss Report on the
Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity
16/09/2008 - 11:30
Pavan Sukhdev, Study Leader for a report jointly sponsored by the European
Commission and the German government on the economic impacts of biodiversity
loss will be in Washington on September 16 for meetings with the World Bank and
the Global Forest Leaders Forum.
The study, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), was commissioned
by German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel and European Commissioner for the
Environment Stavros Dimas and will be finalized in 2009. But initial results
show that by 2050:
11% of the natural areas remaining in 2000 could be lost, chiefly as a result of
conversion for agriculture, the expansion of infrastructure, and climate change;
almost 40% of land currently under low-impact forms of agriculture could be
converted to intensive agricultural use, with further biodiversity losses;
60% of coral reefs could be lost as early as 2030 – through fishing, pollution,
disease, invasive species and coral bleaching due to climate change.
"This study notes the severe dangers that biodiversity loss poses to human
health and welfare," said Pavan Sukhdev. "And climate change is exacerbating
"Biodiversity is the natural wealth of the Earth, the basis of life and the
prosperity of mankind," added Commissioner Dimas. "But the pool of life is
shrinking at an alarming rate. The message is clear: we are robbing ourselves of
our own future. It is now vital to step up our actions to safeguard the variety
of life on Earth."
He continued: "The economic arguments for nature protection are beginning to
enter mainstream thinking, but the approach is still new and more work is
needed. Together with the German Environment Ministry, the Commission has
therefore launched an initiative to draw attention to the global economic
benefits of biodiversity and highlight the cost of biodiversity loss and
The Delegation of the European Commission and the Embassy of Germany invite you
to a press briefing with Pavan Sukhdev on Tuesday, September 16, at 1 p.m. in
the Press Room of the Delegation of the European Commission (2300 M Street, NW,
Washington DC, 1st floor Press Room). Please RSVP to susan.tucker at ec.europa.eu ,
or (202) – 862 9552
Mr Sukhdev is Managing Director and Head of Deutsche Bank’s Global Markets
business in India, and a Founder-Director of the ‘Green Accounting for Indian
States Project’, an initiative of the Green Indian States Trust (GIST) to set up
an economic valuation and national accounting framework to measure
sustainability for India.
Delegation of the European Commission to the
Anthony Smallwood, 202-862-9523
Kasper Zeuthen, 202-862-9530
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