In a session on financialization of nature, we listened to testimonies from Ecuador (carbon markets and clean development mechanism-CDM), Brazil (REDD+), India (carbon credits) and the US (water pollution offsetting). The empirical examples in my mind produced this hypothetical but completely possible perverse scenario within market mechanisms:
An energy company wants to build a hydroelectric plant in the Himalayas, but because they must cut trees they pay a fund for offsetting the deforestation. They cut the trees and move on with the project. This money goes through the CDM to support clean development in India, therefore paying for the hydroelectric plant project which is considered renewable somehow. So the company ends up paying for its own project, cuts the trees, kicks out local people and builds a huge dam. Also, they sell themselves as “good guys” because they are paying for their mess.
sinan, December 10th
PS: Another example (more realistic) is here. 🙂