Friday, February 26, 2010

Avoided Deforestation Partners wants to make living trees more profitable than dead ones

"One ton of carbon dioxide is presently trading on European markets at about £10. A hectare of rainforest stores about 500 tons and therefore has a potential value of £5,000; but, as the New York Times recently pointed out, millions of hectares of rainforest are being cut down to create agricultural land worth £100 a hectare. Why are we allowing people to be deprived of their natural habitats, biodiversity to be diminished and climatic catastrophe to be hastened, and all at a loss of £4,900 a hectare? There are no easy answers, but I am sure that part of the blame, and more importantly of the solution, is down to us accountants." - Sir Michael Peat.

I found this quote in a book I'm currently reading (The Sustainable MBA: The Manager's guide to green Business by Giselle Weybrecht), and it's from an article published by Sir Peat in 2007. The price of one ton of CO2 have gone up since then (
about £11.3 if you look at the Spot price last month in the European market) and it looks like this concept that living trees should be more profitable to their owners than dead trees is getting more and more support.

As we reported here before, policymakers globally and in the U.S. are having difficulties to establish a program, such as REDD, that would actually make it happen. The vacuum left is beginning to be filled in with voluntary initiatives. We wrote here last October on Carbon Canopy, and now I've just learned about a coalition called '
Avoided Deforestation Partners' which has similar plans.

According to their website, Avoided Deforestation Partners is an international network of thinkers, strategists and practitioners, founded by leaders in forest carbon policy and project implementation, science, finance, and conservation in 2007, to support international efforts to halt tropical deforestation. It includes environmental groups and companies that represent a range of business interests, from heavy emitters that include American Electric Power, Duke Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric, and El Paso Corp., to other companies such as Starbucks, Marriott and Disney.

As described by Marc Gunther on, Avoided Deforestation Partners is the brainchild of Jeff Horowitz, a 58-year-old architect and newcomer to the environmental movement who has quietly become an influential player as climate change legislation inches its way through a divided Congress. Gunther had a very interesting talk with Horowitz about the coalition's plan to create a "a mechanism through which either regulated companies or unregulated companies, or governments, can make payments to help prevent deforestation in the global south."

The interview is available at

It will be interesting to see if initiatives such as this one or Carbon Canopy will succeed in a place where policymakers seem to fail. And it's even more interesting to see if these initiatives can help promote broader programs such as REDD. We'll keep you posted!

Raz @ Eco-Libris