Sunday, November 9, 2008

Did you remember to pay your rainforest bill?

Prince Charles has a great idea - rich countries should pay an annual "utility bill" for the benefits given to the world by its rainforests. The Prince of Wales was presenting this idea in Indonesia while talking with the Indonesian President and his cabinet last week.

The BBC News reported that "the prince called rainforests the "world's greatest public utility". They act as an air conditioner, store fresh water and provide work, he said."

The idea is that Indonesia and the other nations with significant rainforests are stewards of the world's greatest public utility and that rich countries should pay them for their service.

The prince compares the payment for the eco-services of rainforests to paying regular utility bills for gas, water and electricity. He added that "As developed nations were the driving force behind their destruction, through a demand for products like beef, palm oil, soya and logs, they should be billed for their protection."

How exactly these payments will be made? the prince hopes that that a large part of the funds would come from bonds issued by a international body that will be funded directly by governments of developed countries. Prince Charles is very involved with efforts to save forests. Earlier this year we reported on his offer to Norwegian Prime Minister to work together on saving forests in developing countries. The offer came after Norway's announcement last December that it aimed to provide about 3 billion crowns ($541.2 million) per year to prevent deforestation in developing countries.

Also, last October he launched a new organization called Reforestation Project that calls for a new green economics that recognizes the world's rainforests are worth more alive than dead.

We definitely think the concept is right and the sooner it will be implemented the better. The only question is how realistic it is especially in the current economic environment to expect governments to voluntarily pay rainforests bills.

I am afraid that it won't work, unless it's part of a wider framework that will demand developed countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. Only then there is going to be a greater economic incentive to act and not just a good will which is important but not sufficient to generate action these days.

You can find more information on the prince efforts on the Prince's Rainforests Project:

Raz @ Eco-Libris

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