If you can’t beat ’em, sell to ’em.
For years now, big businesses and big utilities have been viewed as Public Enemy #1 of the environment — hurting much more than helping. But one Louisiana firm, Tierra Resources, has found a way to turn energy companies’ needs into a possible win for Mother Earth: By making the preservation of precious coastal wetlands financially worthwhile, according to Next City.
The key? Carbon offsets.
Wetlands protect coastal development, provide homes for wildlife, and drink up the carbons in the atmosphere linked to global warming. In many areas, unfortunately, wetlands have disappeared, being drained for development or eroded by storms. While many argue that wetland restoration is necessary, the work could cost billions.
But there’s where the idea of carbon offsets (where a firm purchases the rights to create more carbon from another firm that can mitigate carbon) enter the equation.
If, say, Entergy, a Louisiana utility firm, can restore more wetlands on company-owned real estate, that ground could offset some of Entergy’s carbon emissions. And it could reduce the $50 billion-plus projected price tag for rebuilding an ecosystem so vital to the state and to the world.
Tierra Resources helps make this possible by developing a detailed system of scientifically tracking and verifying the carbon offsets the wetlands provide. While the science is fairly convoluted, it’s promising enough that Entergy has sunk $150,000 into a pilot program, Tierra reports.
The Ecosystem Marketplace reports that energy giant ConocoPhillips is also considering investing in wetlands reclamation. That might be a drop in the multinational firm’s budget, but it’s potentially a big deal for the environment, as the company owns 640,000 acres of wetlands — making it one of the biggest single owners of such land in the United States.
Perhaps this will ultimately be the key to turning the tide of wetlands, and the environment. If doing the earth-friendly thing isn’t inspiration enough, making responsible environmental stewardship a savvy business decision has to spur change, right?