Putting the Private Sector to Work

The financing of the necessary environmental restoration is problematic. The job is o big, government can’t do it alone. There is a need to jigger the economic system so restoration becomes a profitable enterprise — something absolutely necessary to doing business. An example of this is the way government-imposed mileage standards inspired the market to innovate fuel-saving technologies.

Bloomberg Law has a short, interesting article about activating the private sector.

Most of the attention on the actions to achieve this net-zero transformation has focused on expanding investment in technologies that reduce emissions from fossil fuels, such as wind, solar, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles.

What’s less widely understood and discussed in the U.S. and around the world is that achieving this ambitious goal will also require scaling up private sector investments in nature-based infrastructure solutions, such as wetland and forest restoration, which help pull carbon emissions out of the atmosphere and embed it in our natural ecosystems.


Ecological restoration is a huge climate and business opportunity in part because there is so much past damage, which thankfully can be fixed using current technology and methods. We have much work to do, as over half of our original wetlands in the lower 48 states have been drained.

Today, a network of rivers and streams 10 times the total length of the U.S. interstate highway system is significantly degraded by pollution, and the Department of Agriculture has predicted a possible net loss of 37 million acres of forest by 2060.

America’s ecological restoration industry is already taking on some of this work with available capital. For example, about $4 billion in wetland and stream restoration is carried out each year by private businesses that specialize in repairing damaged aquatic ecosystems. The ecological restoration must meet stringent government standards, or it can’t be valued under well-established net-zero federal wetland policies.

Unfortunately, a dramatic expansion of investment in climate resilience, water quality, and ecosystems is held back by government rules. A patchwork of outdated state and federal laws, approval processes, and government procurement strategies too often stifle private sector investment in ecological restoration.

The article doesn’t go much into how this mobilization of the private sector will take place, but it’s still worthwhile. The source links in the piece are worth the price of admission.

Among the most interesting is the link to the 2017 National Water Quality Inventory.

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