U.S. National Opinion Survey on Stacking Environmental Credits - 2011

New Report from EPRI: This report summarizes and analyzes the responses of a national survey entitled "Evaluation of Credit Stacking" that was developed jointly by EPRI, the World Resources Institute, Stetson University College of Law and the University of Kentucky. The purpose of the survey was to collect opinions about credit stacking from practitioners currently involved in environmental credit markets. The survey was conducted in the first quarter of 2010 and was sent to approximately 1,500 individuals... Published: 12-19-2011

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Tim Gieseke

Stacking Ecoservice Credits

I appreciate the survey and the report.  And it is essential that the participants in this emerging industry develop consensus on what is appropriate to progress forward.  But I do think that many of the participants in this emerging ecomarket economy assume ownership of the position that they will vote on what is appropriate and what is not appropriate to value.  That job will be up to the actual buyers and sellers of ecoservices. 

If I posed a similar survey and asked as I farmer should I be able to stack values of provisional ecosystem services that I produce on the same parcel of land, the survey results would be interesting, but not economically meaningful.  If I planted a corn seed and from the 1.5 square foot of land I generated 600 corn seeds, one stalk and one cob and I found a buyer for each of those values, I am essentially stacking values from 1.5 sq ft of land.  If I manage that 1.5 sq ft of land for water quality as well, I should be able to stack that value.  If I am quite innovative and I also identify other regulating, supporting, provisional, or cultural ecosystem services that I am producing from the 1.5 sq ft of land, and other individuals or entities recognize, desire and value one or more of those ecosystem services, then ecocommerce should commence regardless if 0% of 100% of surveyors decided it should be so.

A sense of ownership in this emerging industry is essential for it to progress forward.  My concern is that overly possessiveness is creeping into the framework building effort to deem what is appropriate.  Oversight should be required in transactions, just an in our current economy, but deciding what others should or should not recognize and value may prevent this industry from progressing at the pace necessary to mature along with our rapidly evolving economic structure.

Morgan Robertson

Tim, you said: "Oversight

Tim, you said:

"Oversight should be required in transactions, just an in our current economy, but deciding what others should or should not recognize and value may prevent this industry from progressing at the pace necessary to mature along with our rapidly evolving economic structure."

This is an interesting tack to take.  I'm trying to imagine a market in which there was fundamental disagreement over what counts as "value" -- how would that not be anarchic?  I mean, if two ES suppliers each had substantially different views on what constitutes value, they would have to settle on one common framework before any transaction could occur, wouldn't they?  If "value" means simply that quality which allows measurement, unity on the measurement question would seem to be the foundation of any progress.

And the farmers can assert that they "own" each stacked item all they want -- this has been USDA's line for years, but it doesn't automatically elicit consent from ecosystem scientists that the different elements in a stacked ecosystem are obviously separate and discrete things that can be transacted separately.  And since this is a science-intensive field where ecological measurement criteria are requisite (unlike the corn example), we can't do without their consent.

 

Wetlandia: a blog about ecosystem services and some other things.

Tim Gieseke

Valuation Stacking

Morgan - I appreciate the comments.  To keep my feet on the ground during the evolution of ecosystem service markets I often compare them with traditional economic goods and transactions.  Valuation is tricky, but if I asked 10 scientists what the value of a hammer is, would they evaluate it from a societal perspective or just find out what buyers and sellers agree on.  I would guess a bit of both, to various degrees.