Growing Money on Trees
Published February 12, 2010
MG: So explain, if you can, what it is you've been able to get the Sierra Club, Duke Energy, AEP, not to mention political leaders in both the developed world and in the poorer countries to agree to. Not formally, but what's the goal these folks all share?
JH: Well, I think the easiest way for me to summarize this would be to say that [inaudible] is value inherent in these tropical rainforests in that the carbon that is contained in these forests has tremendous value. And the more that we can define that value in terms of a commodity, the more we may bring ourselves closer to understanding that protecting those forests or protecting something that is a benefit to the world in terms of climate pollution, in terms of biodiversity and, in many respects, the lungs of the planet, the indigenous groups that live in these forests.
And right now, a lot of those forested lands are being sold off at a pittance in order to be converted for other agricultural uses. The lands are slashed, and timber taken out of those places, and then burned and then converted into other ag uses. We need to end that practice, and the groups that are all involved in our coalition are committed toward ending that practice.
MG: So essentially, this involves a mechanism through which either regulated companies or unregulated companies, or governments, can make payments to help prevent deforestation in the global south. That's a fair description, correct?
MG: So why don't you -- let's take several categories of businesses, since this is a business audience, and try to summarize what the business opportunity is for each of these groups, starting with the regulated utilities like AEP and Duke Energy and PG&E. What's the opportunity for that group?
JH: Well, I think it's very clear that these groups understand that pollution is bad, and controlling pollution at the source is very important to them. The technologies are not all there to create the clean coal that people are alluding to, to scrub the power -- smokestacks that create the pollution. And as they get developed, they're expensive, and the costs need to be brought down over time.