Saturday, March 17, 2012

Buy your own environment bonds


Ecuador has lots of oil sitting beneath its rainforest. It could chop down the forest and become richer almost overnight. But you and your children would have less nice clean air to breath, and the world would lose one of its most diverse ecosystems - and who knows what medications might be found there in the future if it is left unharmed. This poor country would lose about USD 7bn if it does not tap this oil. But if the world contributes just half of these losses then it will be prepared to forego the lost resources. Effectively, a relatively poor country is prepared to subsidise your clean air. Pretty generous, I'd say. 

I bought a 'green bond' some time ago. You can contribute just $5 if you like and, if ever the decision is taken to pump the oil, the government has to give you the money back. The scheme is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The returns are in-kind. You and those around you get cleaner air; you keep the opportunity to visit this part of the world any time in your life; you get to feel good that you are doing something for the world and that you are helping to compensate a poor country for part of its losses (you like to give a little something back :)  ) and occasionally you receive emails giving you updates and reminding you what a fantastic human being you are. And it's one of those emails that prompted me to write this entry.

You can read about the scheme and buy your green bonds HERE. The Yasuni National Park website about the scheme is HERE (in Spanish) and an analysis of the scheme by the World Resources Institute is HERE.