Need to move from a country’s balance sheet to the One-Earth Balance Sheet

Andrew Sheng in this INET article writes on how we need to move away from thinking around national issues to earth issues:

Each sovereign country behaves today as if its monetary, fiscal or consumption policies operate in a silo, impacting its own citizens only. Since there is no global government or central bank, no one compiles a global monetary and fiscal accounting to see if what individual nations do is consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals for the planet as a whole. Citizens are not given a complete picture of what alternative policies are available that could help the planet as a whole.

But if we consider Earth as a living being, we can easily amend the current accounting measurement frameworks to take into consideration human interactions with nature. For example, suppose we create an extra “nature” sector for national and international economic accounting systems. We could keep records of how much it has “transacted” in terms of carbon emissions and capture, usage of natural resources, pollution and more.

There is much work to do to standardize concepts, frameworks and disclosure requirements. But the building blocks for the compilation of the One-Earth Balance Sheet, with the input of natural and social scientists and communities are broadly available and can be accelerated to create a common narrative on dealing with climate change and inclusivity.

Having a One-Earth perspective would allow more pluralistic debate over the costs and benefits of applying unilateral policies, such as carbon tariffs that shift the costs to exporting countries. If there is a shortage of funds to finance carbon-reducing investments, could these be funded by a globally agreed Tobin-tax on financial trading, which could cut short-term speculation for better resource allocation?

A One-Earth Balance Sheet would be able to identify where our largest imbalances are. Many are already obvious, such as social, income and wealth. But others, such as consumption behavior relating to pollution, carbon emissions and choke points (vulnerable links) in global networks and supply chains, have not yet been mapped adequately.


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