How the Green Economy Has Been Hijacked by the Greed Economy
Photo Credit: Neil Bradfield/ Shutterstock.com
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
This article is excerpted from the report "Rights of Nature: Planting the Seeds of Real Change" published by Global Exchange (June, 2012). Reproduced by permission only.
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 died because anchovy, their main food, has 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 Peruvian coast has 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 percent of its biodiversity. In tropical areas, the loss has even been as high as 60 percent. 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 posses, exploit, transform and most specially profit out of it.
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 beings of the Earth community, transnational corporations are promoting more capitalism under the ambiguous name of “green economy.”
According to proponents, the mistake of capitalism, which led us to these current multiple crises, is that the free market had not gone far enough. Thus, “green economy” capitalism is going to fully incorporate nature as part of its capital. They are identifying the specific functions of ecosystems and biodiversity that can be priced and then brought into a global market as “Natural Capital.”
In a report by Ecosystem Marketplace, we can read a brutally frank description of what is motivating Green Economy advocates:
Given their enormous impact on our daily lives, it's astounding that we don't pay more atten¬tion, 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 livable conditions and are delivered by the world's largest utilities. Far larger in value and scale than any electric, gas, or water utility could pos¬sibly 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.
The goal is not just to privatize material goods that can be taken from nature, such as wood from a forest, but also to privatize the functions and processes of nature, label them environmental services, set a price and then bring them into the market. In the same report, the contributors already have estimated annual values for these environmental services.
To illustrate, take a look at the leading example of “green economy,” the program REDD (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). REDD's purpose is to isolate one of the functions of forests - its ability to capture and store carbon - and then measure how much CO2 it can capture. Once the value of the potential carbon storage of the forest has been estimated, carbon credits are issued and sold to rich countries and big corporations who then use these to offset, or buy and sell, polluting permits in the carbon markets.