Nature for Sale (Frei Betto)

Frei Betto / April 2012

Frei BettoBrazilian author Frei Betto argues the objective of concepts such as natural capital and ecosystem services, also known as the green economy, is to commodify nature for a new source of profits as a way out of the financial crisis.

He explains: “The difference with environmental services is that they are not offered by a person or business but are offered, free of charge, by nature: water, food, medicinal plants, carbon (its absorption and storage), minerals, timber, etc. The proposal is to put an end to this gratuitousness. In capitalist logic, the value of barter of a good is above its user value.  Therefore, these natural goods must be given monetary value”.

“It so happens that nature does not have a bank account in order to receive the money paid by the services it lends. Those who defend this proposal affirm that, therefore, someone or some institution should receive the payment – the owner of the forest or of the ecosystem”.

He disagrees with this perspective that says it is necessary to put a price on nature in order to conserve it.

This new system will be an extension of carbon markets which Betto criticises for allowing rich countries and companies to pay for the right to emit greenhouse gases.

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This summary was prepared by Why Green Economy?. The views expressed have been paraphrased. See the original source for more information.

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