Monday, 28 June 2010

And sometimes the baptists find the bootleggers

Greens have learned to appeal to governments’ protectionist tendencies. Earlier this year the Nature Conservancy, an American green group, took representatives of America’s National Farmers Union and the American Farmland Trust on a trip to Brazil to see how illegal forest clearance was “hurting US businesses by flooding markets with cheap and unsustainable products”. A new report from David Gardiner & Associates, a consultancy, says the 13m hectares of mostly tropical forest that are lost annually allow the large-scale and low-cost expansion of timber, cattle and agricultural production. The report argues that policies to conserve rainforests would boost American agricultural revenue by as much as $190 billion-270 billion between 2012 and 2030.

Some companies may still take the view that decisions about buying palm oil are purely a matter of cost—a comparison of the price of oil from a sustainable source with that of buying the stuff from anywhere. But as the political pressure rises, the financial calculus changes.
From The Economist.

Hey, I was worried about palm oil before it was cool - back when European government policies seemed determined to raze the rainforests through biofuel mandates. Funny how things swing.

If you're unfamiliar with Bruce Yandle's Bootleggers & Baptist's explanation of how we wind up with highly inefficient policy, do check it out.

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