Economics of the Ocean Conference will hear how TSSEF’s flexible pollutant fee mechanism can save phosphorus

2013-12-03 00:11 CET

Can we save our oceans? Should we put a price on polluting our oceans? How? These are some of the questions to be raised at the summit on the Economics of the Ocean, to be held 3-4 December 2013 at the House of Sweden, 2900 K Street, NW, in Washington, DC.

One of the answers being presented by Swedish sustainable technology expert Bengt Simonsson is to retrieve the phosphorus we have discarded into the ocean by a new form of dredging. And to finance it, Simonsson will be proposing the use of TSSEF – The Swedish Sustainable Economy Foundation’s- mechanism of flexible pollutant fees.

The event will be an opportunity for big thinkers and doers to share their thoughts and insights about emerging issues on managing the economic value of our oceans, estuaries, and coasts.

Enabling technology
Simonsson will attempt to get participants to see  beyond contemporary perception. Where some see mud, others see a potential gold mine of resources including sources for biogas, fertilizers, land cover materials and valuable trace metals and minerals. The technology he is proposing, Density Sorting Dredging, yields possibilities to extract different fractions with specific qualities from the retrieved sediments from seabeds. The different fractions can be refined in such a way as to make them usable for other parties.

Seeing revenue streams
In this way, Density Sorting Dredging creates many possibilities to add revenue streams to restoration of aquatic environments. Indeed, the money paid by past generations to dispose of nutrients has created a potential income from refining. The destruction of natural capital from nutrient loading creates a potential income from extraction.

In principle, any pipe that connects to the municipal waste water system, or any pipe that emits directly into a watercourse can be subject to a fee. The price could be set at the same level as the cost to restore the eco-system. If eco-system damage is irreversible, then the cost to emit should be slightly higher than the price of not emitting. The economic incentive would be to choose the slightly cheaper, less polluting option.  The price can be found by discovery, using the power of the market. This approach is called the Flexible Emission Fee Mechanism from A fee is levied on emissions and raised at regular intervals until the market develops alternative, non-polluting solutions. The revenue from the fee, minus dredging and other costs, is returned to tax-payers to further stimulate the economy and distribute costs in a fair and democratic way.


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