Contributors: Curran, Michael, Dr. (ETH Zurich)
I am a postgraduate researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zürich, where I investigate how overconsumption of imported products in developed economies is driving biodiversity loss in the developing world.
Scientific paper contribution: Tax internationally traded commodities to safeguard biodiversity.
This paper is co-authored by Dr. Laura de Baan, Prof. Thomas Koellner, Prof. Carlo Rondinini, Dr. Piero Visconti, and Prof. Stefanie Hellweg
Abstract: Habitat loss in developing countries, driven by agricultural production for markets in the developed world, represents the most immediate threat to global biodiversity. In this study, we present a framework to quantify and compensate such land use impacts on biodiversity. The method quantifies pixel-level reductions in threat and rarity weighted species richness, using data from a recent Global Mammal Assessment. The compensation method applies “robustly fair” biodiversity offsets to assess conservation gains of compensation projects, corrected for future uncertainty and risk. These are compared to impacts per area (per ha) or product (per tonne). We illustrate a hypothetical case study of crop production in East Africa, with results indicating “biodiversity neutral” production could be achieved with consumer price increases ranging ca. 0.5–50% in the developed world. Institutional hurdles may be substantial (e.g. WTO rules), but protecting biodiversity is achievable provided the Global North is willing to pay a little more for its imports.