Bernardo Cruz

Student , Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade do Porto

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Payment for ecologic services (and penalties for ecologic damages)

When I plant a tree, I'm investing time on it. Whem I water that tree, I'm again making an investment in time and money, that will often not pat off, economically.
Yet, I'm making a service to all mankind (because the tree will fight global warming). Shouldn't I be rewarded for it? You may say my reward is feeling I've done something for mankind, but we all know that's not what fuels the world.

So, what I'm proposing is that whoever does something that benefits everybody, by cleaning the world we live in, should be payed for that (that way we'll stimulate ecologic protection).
And also that everyone who damages the world we live in should pay (e.g. to those who protect the environment). That way we'll desencourage ecologic destruction.

Say whatever you're thinking about this!

  • Jan 24 2012: System that work are simple system. Putting in place a bonus and penalty system is difficult because it double the difficulty of calculating the benefit and loss. I think paying the real price (=penalty) would be the most efficient as companies would change drastically there production way to remain low price for the customer. Ideal would be that end consumer can see on the price tag: 10 $ (including 4$ for nature rehabilitation) but that makes it complicating again.
    we have to agree on:
    1. Criteria: Sustainability, CO2 emission, water consumption, air pollution, etc.. more? Less?
    2. Value: How much would it cost to replenish the fish stock levels, to catch carbon into the ground or any other way, to produce clean water, etc... More challenging is to put value on non renewable stock like oil. This can only be approximate so we will need people to agree on certain value. This will likely be the most difficult part as every expert will come up with a new number creating and endless debate. Personally I am in favour of a A, B, C, D grade system with only 4 levels. It can even start without payment as awareness like it is tested in France now on many product and like it works extremely well on home appliance like fridge and air conditioning.
    3. Who/where to collect this money ?
    4. Use of the money collected?
    5. Need to include life cycle and disposal as well?

    Many point to be solved but I do believe this is the key.
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      Jan 30 2012: I thank you, Antoine, for the things you pointed out, this is in deed something difficult and expensive to put into practise, but I think it's the only way to save our future.

      Firstly, I think you don't really double the difficulty of calculating benefit and loss. See this, if I emit X tons of carbon into the atmosphere, I'd pay Y. If I planted a forest that would take X tons of carbon out of the atmosphere, I'd receive Y. So, it'd be like an equilibrium, a balance. Of course we would have to allow something more to be taken from nature that it is replenished, but avoiding future generations to be harmed because of that (see what I said to Ariel Israel about calculating the price of oil extraction).

      That's also my point when I say some people should receive and others pay. You believe it should be only a penalty system (not receiving). But if it would be so, how would we benefit the ones you e.g. mantain a forest? We can't apply a bill to everyone who doesn't plant trees...

      Showing the proportion of the price of each product that will go to paying this nature tax is a very good idea, I believe. It should be done that way.

      1. I think that criteria (CO2, water, air pollution) is good for starting. I'd add another: resource usage, to be calculated for at least the major resources.
      2. See what I said to Ariel Israel about the price to put on oil extraction.
      3. Some global structure should be created for this to work most effectively. Something transgovernmental... Where? Well, I think it should be collected like taxes... Can't say more than this...
      4. I'm thinking in the money collected and the money used in rewards as a balance: the profit for the collecting entity would be just enough to pay for all the expenses of the maintainance of such a system.
      5. Garbage? It'd also be useful to include it, but perhaps not in a first stage (we should try it first with e.g. carbon and then as it'd work (or not) we would apply it to more environmental areas).
      • Jan 30 2012: Hello,

        Fully agree on the quota for oil extraction. Simply said: Consumption / Oil production time = 0

        I am not sure that creating a part of the economy based on bonuses is good. Environmental subsidize often turn out to be miss used. I am not a big fan of C02 stock market value either. Also it should not be ok to pollute a lot just because we can offset it with heavy geo - engineering. If we want to be able to change to a green economy, all those new company must be built on realistic cost structure and not be profitable because some people make enough money by polluting and therefore pay more taxes.

        Honestly I can't think of a proper way to put all this money back on nature bank's account. My best idea is to help reaching the millennium goals. Other ideas?

        My goal is to find a system where company producing non sustainable product/service have no choice to adapt or close and not to allow them to go on as long as they pay someone to offset/repair. On other word, solving instead of curing.

        Concerning offsetting, I could not say it better than her:

        Looking forward to discuss this further.
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          Jan 31 2012: Hello again
          I also have deep suspicions about carbon trading results seeing what they were so far. But we have to find a way to promote forest protection, garbage treatment and other actions that require active investment. That was what leaded me to create this discussion after all. And I know that it won't work simply by asking people to be good to old gentle mother Earth. Of course the system will have to ensure that all avoidable "miss uses" are avoided.

          About companies cleaning their hands with geo-engineering with the tax, I think that , if a company emits X tons of CO2 and it either uses geo-engineering or mantains a forest so that X tons of CO2 is absorbed (or pays some one else to do it), I don't see the big problem. There's a balance in this situation. Of course it's not so simple for water and air pollution, but if we want, we will get to an acceptable market system for those issues...

          Again discussing about the fate of the penalties collected, millenium goals aren't a bad fate for the money, but i still think this would work better if we use the money of penalties for rewards (it would be like company A that emitted X tons of CO2 paying company B to take those X tons out of the atmosphere. The value of the ton of CO2 would have to be high enough so that the balance would be near zero.

          About "solving instead of curing", fully agree if we're talking about releasing hazardous chemicals into the wild (you can't revert that). But if we're talking about CO2 emissions, per example, it's something you can compensate, and society can't live with prohibited emissions.

          But I hope the outcome of this conversation will be better than my original idea.
  • Jan 23 2012: great idea
    how do you make it a reality?
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      Jan 23 2012: I say political will. You make it a reality just like you apply a law or enforce a change in society: the ones with political power have to do the courageous step forward.

      Of course I don't see those narrow austerity-focused minds that lead us thinking about these issues that are simple but have profound consequences. New open-minded ecologic parties will have to emerge, so that this kind of ideas gets to the media and political pressure can work.

      We live in a time of history when it's up to all of us to propose the ideas and make them be heard. Petitions and new parties are good ways. But I honestly don't know who will launch them... Maybe one of us.
  • Feb 1 2012: Overall we agree => People must be the real cost of things...
    Don't really know how to push politics in the right direction (apart from voting once in a while) so recently I focus more on promoting sustainability at work and around me.

  • Jan 24 2012: we have to learn how to calculate ecological benifits and damages in order to make this possible.
    in the end it up to us.
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      Jan 30 2012: This value issue (how much should they pay or receive?) is really the hardest of this system. It'll not be easy to agree on a certain value, but I think it's better for it to work with an 'incorrect' value than to not work at all.
      I think the value should be enough to ensure future generations will have oil until they have developed an alternative energy source. If it would be like making the use of resources equal to their natural replenishment, the oil we could use annually would be near zero. So, I think we should make a prediction (of course it may fail, but it's better than nothing) on when will mankind have an alternative energy source and so put such a price on oil extraction that it lasts in considerable quantity until the time we have an alternative source. So, if you want, it's like altruism between generations.

      Hard to apply, that's why I say we need political will to tackle this problems.