TEEB pushes fear and new taxes

13 Jun

The past two days I’ve looked at the UN’s interim TEEB report and found several errors in the first chapter. I was going to write a post about how this pseudo-science spreads, but after looking at several TEEB documents I decided to write on a new topic.

The TEEB isn’t a scientific body, it exists to influence policymakers. This isn’t a contentious claim, they say so on their webpage:

The TEEB study aims to:

* Integrate ecological and economic knowledge to structure the evaluation of ecosystem services under different scenarios.
* Recommend appropriate valuation methodologies for different contexts.
* Examine the economic costs of biodiversity decline and the costs and benefits of actions to reduce these losses.
* Develop “toolkits” for policy makers at international, regional and local levels in order to foster sustainable development and better conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity.
* Enable easy access to leading information and tools for improved biodiversity practice for the business community – from the perspective of managing risks, addressing opportunities, and measuring impacts.
* Raise public awareness of the individual’s impact on biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as identifying areas where individual action can make a positive difference.

They obtain these goals by attempting to instill fear in their audience. Once the fear is instilled, they recommend new taxes to solve the problem.

On this section of their website they give ‘presentation tools’. I guess if you are concerned about biodiversity you can download them and lecture your friends with a powerpoint slide. One presentation is particularly interesting, The Origins and Goals of TEEB.

It starts with a picture of the globe now, and then a picture in 2050 showing how much biodiversity we are going to lose. It is typical to start off with a graphic like that, I suppose it ensures the audience is listening. Then this slide follows:

If this weren’t seeming to advocate a ‘total overhaul’ of the ‘model of capitalism’ it would be funny. This slide is almost childish. However, the next slide is what really takes the cake:

This attempt at placing guilt on the audience is ridiculous enough, but look at the caption below the slide:

Think about it –
Are you happy to leave your grandchildren a qorld where Nature is only valued at one-seventh of what we perceive it as today?
With current economic models that is exactly what we are saying right now.

I don’t feel comfortable with that, and I am pretty sure most of you wouldn’t be either. So we have to change things.

I can’t help but laugh at this. Or maybe, quagh at it. This looks more like a comment from an un-educated pre-teen on some blog than a coherent presentation of the facts about biodiversity loss. Remember, this is on the TEEB’s own website, in their own section called ‘presentation tools’ and it is labeled ‘The Origins and Goals of TEEB’.

Yes, I am making fun of this, but why not? This is being touted as the basis for a new IPCC-like panel to look at biodiversity loss, and it looks at though it is being presented by fear-mongering amateurs. However, some other presentations aren’t quite as silly. Patrick ten Brink is the TEEB for Policy Makers Co-ordinator at the Institute for European Environmental Policy. He gave a presentation to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in Montreux, Switzerland on March 12’th of this year. Here is the presentation (a pdf).

Most of it is pretty standard stuff, but there are a few slides worth noting. The first is a slide that also exists on the TEEB site:

This is a collage of the headlines after the first TEEB report was released. While it isn’t surprising to see that they desired positive media attention, to still be touting such attention two years later must mean they value it VERY highly.

A large emphasis of the TEEB is protection of the world’s biodiversity, which of course will cost money. Where will the money come from? Well, let’s see:

I like the juxtaposition of FDR’s comment with the new environmental comment. Here is the next slide:

And the next:

They clearly support all kinds of new taxes, but it isn’t only taxes they support, they also favor new trading systems:

The bottom line seems to be government action. To save biodiversity on our planet, we must support new taxes and trading systems. Where is the science to back up these claims? Don’t bother looking for it in the slides, it isn’t in there. This presentation isn’t a one-off either, here is a slide from a presentation in Sweden in 2009:

And another slide from a presentation in the Netherlands in April of this year:

Note the interesting reference to the IPCC.

This recent push to value biodiversity seems no different than other government sponsored eco-scares. They present scary graphics and statistics, and while everyone is breathing into a paper bag they reveal their solution: more taxes, more regulation, and more government.



Posted by on June 13, 2010 in Uncategorized


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6 responses to “TEEB pushes fear and new taxes

  1. Sofie

    June 28, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    I would like to see a slide that says instead: “Think about it – Are you happy to leave your grandchildren a world where the US dollar is only valued at one-seventh of what we perceive it as today? Because of hyper government expenditure to combat mythical climate change, with current economic models, that is exactly what we are saying right now.”

  2. Anonymous

    May 21, 2011 at 7:13 am

    The current economic model is flawed. It is based on the supply of natural resources and the incorrect assumption that supplies of natural resources are infinite. TEEB goes a long way in suggesting ways to account for the finite nature of natural resources, while maintaining economic wealth (and sustainable wealth, not wealth today at the expense of the future). Current economic thinking and function is so far removed from basic thermodynamic laws that it is idiotic. For example, government subsidies invest millions with the aim to increase the number of boats in fishing fleets rather than invest in fisheries. Adding more boats to the worlds fishing fleet will not do anything to help declining fish stocks. A paradigm shift is required so that our economic system is more in line with ecological functioning and limits.


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