By Worldwatch Institute
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Additional resources for State of the World: Towards a Sustainable Global Economy: Ideas and Opportunities for Sustainable Economies (2007)
16 Comprehensive data on the economic value of ecosystem services are scarce, but the picture emerging from research over the last decade suggests that these services are of major, though often hidden, economic importance. A 1997 study conservatively 7 ES_SOW08_chapters 28/11/07 07:01 Page 8 STATE OF THE WORLD 2008 Seeding the Sustainable Economy estimated the total global value of 17 ecosystem services to be at least as large as the combined annual output of the world’s economies. A follow-up 2002 study estimated that current rates of habitat conversion cost the world’s economies some $250 billion, year in and year out.
Using their market muscle, consumers are already helping to drive interest in green products of all kinds. Sales of Toyota’s hybrid vehicles, for example, jumped from 18,000 in 1998 to 312,500 in 2006 and now number more than 1 million worldwide. Sales of compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) in the United States alone totaled 100 million in 2005. And purchases of organic foods worldwide jumped by 43 percent between 2002 and 2005, to $43 billion. S. sales of CFLs accounted for only 5 percent of lightbulb sales in 2007, and organic agriculture is practiced on less than 1 percent of global agricultural land.
12 Governments are finding imaginative ways to include such costs, typically through taxes or fees. Ecotaxes, which in countries that belong to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development provided 6–7 percent of tax revenues between 1994 and 2004, often involve shifting levies away from things valued by society, such as work, to undesirable things like pollution. Germany, for example, increased taxes on energy from 1999 through 2002 and reduced taxes on labor, resulting in lower emissions of carbon and the creation of 250,000 new jobs through 2003.
State of the World: Towards a Sustainable Global Economy: Ideas and Opportunities for Sustainable Economies (2007) by Worldwatch Institute