Government’s new tree planting scheme boosts financial services trade in carbon

Before we all go rarara about the Conservative government’s new scheme to boost tree planting, let’s just note that it’s based on the financialisation of the ecosystem – ie turning the natural environment into another set of markets for the financial services industry to get fat off.

Basically the new Woodland Carbon Guarantee scheme is based on a trade in carbon, via Woodland Carbon Units. This is made clear on the Forest Trade website and the UK Woodland Carbon Code “Buy Carbon” webpage.

Plan hatched in 2011 by ConDem government

The Government’s new scheme is the fruition of the ConDem coalition government plan to create a market in so-called ecosystem services. This was laid out in its heavily business-oriented 2011 National Environment White Paper.

Here is the Plain Speaker blog post from 2011 about why this is not a great approach to environmental conservation and climate change reduction.

In summary:

“The government spin is that putting a monetary value on the services we take from the environment will mean that businesses will have to take account of the costs of pollution and environmental damage that they cause, instead of ignoring them. But critics say that turning the natural environment into an accounting exercise is neoliberalism run mad.

“The coalition government plans to develop “ecosystem markets”, based on the accounting exercise in the National Ecosystems Assessment, and has set up an Ecosystem Markets Task Force (EMTF) led by Ian Cheshire, the chief executive of Kingfisher – a corporate group which includes B&Q. He explains that the EMTF is looking at the environment from a very business point of view and that this includes working out new financial instruments and markets for trading “ecosystem services”. For example, the fact that soil can act as a carbon sink, keeping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere is seen as an “ecosystem service”.

“Opponents of extending carbon trading to agriculture say that this is merely a get-out-of-jail card for governments who are unwilling to effectively cap emissions from energy production/consumption. Agribusinesses like Monsanto have been lobbying to include large-scale soil carbon offsets in the carbon market, since this is an opportunity for them to make more profit.”

2 thoughts on “Government’s new tree planting scheme boosts financial services trade in carbon

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