Neoliberalism cannot fix our climate crisis nor save our endangered species from extinction.
Market-based policies have failed spectacularly when it comes to aged care, disability care and saving the Murray River. But despite the list of disasters, Tanya Plibersek said earlier this month: “Ultimately, I would like to see the market really value nature, so that protecting forests is more valuable than destroying them.”
The environment minister suggested that by establishing a biodiversity market Australia could one day “build its own Green Wall Street: a credible global financial hub, where the world comes to invest in environmental protection and restoration”.
Markets do not value people, platypuses or ecosystems. The only thing the market “value” is the expectation of future profits that a company or activity can generate. A company’s share price reflects investors’ expectations of future profits and dividends. It would be great if corporations were “investing” in biodiversity, doing it purely to save koalas. bogong mothBut the fact is that no one invests from the goodness of their heart without expecting any kind of return.
While PliberSec has been unclear on the exact terminology of the entities that will be traded under the proposed plan, the most likely customers for a biodiversity certificate or credit There will be landowners who want to compensate for the destruction of some of their remaining wildlife habitats for new development or the construction of new mines. The “market value” for such destruction would not be determined by the value of the koala, but by the potential profits of destroying similarly sized habitat elsewhere.
Australia does not need an elaborate new “market mechanism” to save our precious environment. We just need to stop accepting the new Housing Developments Where Koalas Still Prefer to Liveor new Mines where platypus live. And we need to stop approving of it 116 coal and gas projects currently on the books in Australia Which will inevitably lead to climate change that most threatens all of our unique species.
The problem with such policies is that they work, which is why people detained for destroying our habitat are so determined to avoid certain rules in favor of complicated business plans that don’t work. .
This is not a new criticism. Auditor General of New South Wales recently tested The state’s Biodiversity Plan and the NSW Planning and Environment Department found “the core elements of the plan have not been designed effectively”.
The Auditor General’s Report, described as “fatal“, found that ,The major concerns related to transparency, sustainability and integrity of the scheme are yet to be fully resolved.” and “biodiversity gains achieved through the scheme will not be sufficient to offset the loss from development”.
Despite the failures of the NSW Biodiversity Offset Scheme, the federal government continues to follow the same flawed path.
In form of environmental conditions The report makes clear, habitat loss is one of the major risks to what is left of Australia’s biodiversity. Even if it were possible to measure all the biodiversity on each hectare of land, and develop exchange rates for koalas, platypuses and possums, and then ensure that there was no fraud or conflicts of interest, the idea that we would be dealing with mining companies and property Developers destroy some of our precious housing unless they buy “offset” from someone else, it’s bizarre.
If Australia is serious about protecting our endangered species, we need to save their habitat, not ask the market to set the price for destroying it.
Unfortunately, this same obsession with offsetting has become central to climate policy as well. Rather than push for major polluters to reduce their emissions, and instead to halt the construction of new gas and coal mines, the government of Albany proposed “security measures“Big polluters will have no binding obligation to actually reduce their emissions, just that they will be allowed to buy carbon offsets instead.
At the heart of the security mechanism would be a more complex business plan, where both existing and new fossil fuel projects would be allowed Increase their emissions when buying dodgy offsets Someone who promised not to cut down a tree was unlikely to ever cut it. even if check integrity concerns with such dodgy creditNot completed by December, Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen plans to draft his new carbon trading law by November.
Eliminating $11 billion per year fossil fuel subsidies and banning new coal and gas projects would be great for the budget and climate, and it would free up a lot of money to save animals.
But instead of doing what is cheap and easy, our government has chosen to do something complicated and risky. It’s easy to see why property developers and the mining industry are willing to take the risk, but it’s hard to see what’s in it for koalas.