Growing Money on Trees
Published February 12, 2010
Finding an opportunity to invest in forests for those regulated utilities is beneficial in that they are a more affordable solution. While they are affordable, at the same time they are reducing tons and tons of carbon from going into the atmosphere, and a ton of carbon going into the atmosphere from a burning forest is just as detrimental as a ton of carbon going into the atmosphere from a smokestack at a power company.
MG: And you can do them relatively quickly, too, whereas it might take ten years to build a nuclear plant or develop solar technology to the next level.
JH: Well, quickly is one advantage. Not needing new technology, certainly another. And the scalability of this really makes it attractive to everyone who's concerned about global warming, because we do need to have scalable solutions that we can put in place and see real benefits. While those are in place, this buys us time to allow technology to be developed and to be scaled up at the level that needs to be done in order to reduce the problem of climate change.
MG: So then what about that next group of companies, the branded companies like a Marriott, Disney, or Starbucks? Why are they interested in this opportunity?
JH: Well, I think those companies understand that they have a customer base that is concerned about the environment, and that customer base is becoming broader and broader and, frankly, is a real force around the world. People who buy products or use the services of groups like Marriott wanna know that those companies are doing the right thing, that they're being socially responsible, that they care about their environment. And the more that they do as a company, the more attractive they will be to their customer base.
MG: And finally, we talked about a third category of company that is gonna help create this market, and those are the so-called project developers, traders, etc. What's their role here?
JH: Well, as is anything that is important, there are complications in trying to create a system that works, and these projects are simple in concept but take a lot of technical skill and professional skill to put together. There are lots of companies that are being developed as we speak that are project development companies that create these projects, that find those groups that are interested in preserving and protecting their forests, that will pair them with the environmental groups, that will pair them with financial groups that are involved in trading the carbon credits involved.
So there's a whole financial industry that's being set up around project development, project finance, buying and selling carbon credits, and the like. And most of the major investment groups that are around the country are all taking a hard look at this as being an area of interest.
MG: Last question, Jeff. I know you're focused on getting a climate regulation bill through the Senate. One has been passed through the House. What are you doing, and what's your outlook?
JH: Well, it's easy to be pessimistic given the fact that there is a lot on the table right now in terms of the legislative calendar, but we're confident that there are a lot of strong advocates that we have for this in the administration. We still have fierce leaders in the Senate who wanna see a bill passed, and quite possibly on both sides of the aisle, as we continue to work on this.
We are very optimistic that, while we may be in need of a little more time, that this legislation may conceivably get picked up in the middle of year, in advance of the midterm elections. And with due diligence and some hard work, I think that the Senate will come around and realize that we must get something passed.
MG: Great. That was Jeff Horowitz, founder of Avoided Deforestation Partners. Thanks very much, Jeff.
JH: Thank you.