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The Science of Climate Change

Climate change is no longer a distant threat or just a possibility, it is now a reality for all of us. In this pathway, Kevin Trenberth, a renowned climatologist, delves into the science behind climate change. He first introduces the climate system, its main components and forces.

Tackling the Plastic Crisis

Plastic pollution is by far the biggest threat to our oceans and this remains an incredibly tough problem to solve. Plastic credits could potentially serve as one of the much needed solutions for this crisis.

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The Scale of the Net Zero Challenge

The price of meeting net zero is estimated to be between $100-150 trillion over the next 30 years. Regardless of this cost, we need to reach net zero before climate change does irreversible damage to the environment and the economy.

ESG, Sustainability and Impact Jargon Buster

ESG, sustainability, impact… they all just mean green, right? Not quite. Despite being used often interchangeably, there are distinct differences between these terms.

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Featured Pathways

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The Science of Climate Change

Climate change is no longer a distant threat or just a possibility, it is now a reality for all of us. In this pathway, Kevin Trenberth, a renowned climatologist, delves into the science behind climate change. He first introduces the climate system, its main components and forces.

Tackling the Plastic Crisis

Plastic pollution is by far the biggest threat to our oceans and this remains an incredibly tough problem to solve. Plastic credits could potentially serve as one of the much needed solutions for this crisis.

More pathways

Ready to get started?

PLANS & MEMBERSHIP

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Expert led content

+1,000 expert presented, on-demand video modules

Learning analytics

Keep track of learning progress with our comprehensive data

Interactive learning

Engage with our video hotspots and knowledge check-ins

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Gain CPD / CPE credits and professional certification

Managed learning

Build, scale and manage your organisation’s learning

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Featured Content

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The Scale of the Net Zero Challenge

The price of meeting net zero is estimated to be between $100-150 trillion over the next 30 years. Regardless of this cost, we need to reach net zero before climate change does irreversible damage to the environment and the economy.

ESG, Sustainability and Impact Jargon Buster

ESG, sustainability, impact… they all just mean green, right? Not quite. Despite being used often interchangeably, there are distinct differences between these terms.

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What is the (Carbon) Value of a Whale?

What is the (Carbon) Value of a Whale?

Ralph Chami

In this video, Ralph Chami explores the challenges in valuing natural resources. He explains how integrating wild animals and marine vegetation into nature-based solutions can attract significant investments for climate mitigation and biodiversity conservation. He delves deep into the role of whales in sequestering CO2 and proposes a path forward, by means of an economy rooted in natural preservation and prosperity through innovative financial instruments.

In this video, Ralph Chami explores the challenges in valuing natural resources. He explains how integrating wild animals and marine vegetation into nature-based solutions can attract significant investments for climate mitigation and biodiversity conservation. He delves deep into the role of whales in sequestering CO2 and proposes a path forward, by means of an economy rooted in natural preservation and prosperity through innovative financial instruments.

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What is the (Carbon) Value of a Whale?

15 mins 49 secs

Overview

The rapid decline of biodiversity threatens both our biosphere and humanity. To address this, significant investments in conservation are crucial. However, current funding falls short due to non-market valuations of natural assets. Wild animals, especially whales and elephants, play instrumental roles in carbon sequestration, with values reaching $3 million per whale based on their carbon offset contributions. Additionally, marine vegetation, like seagrasses, offer invaluable services, cumulatively worth over $1 trillion. Despite their crucial roles, our economic system fails to adequately value them. To bridge this gap, we should integrate these natural services into financial markets, creating tradable assets. Such a framework not only promotes nature preservation but also incentivises both public and private sectors to champion conservation.

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Summary
What is the global biodiversity financing gap arising from challenges in economically valuing natural resources? 
The global biodiversity financing gap arises from difficulties in economically valuing natural resources. Current valuations use shadow prices or willingness to pay, lacking market price connections. This dissuades investors reliant on market prices, creating a gap in nature protection funding. Estimates suggest a global need for biodiversity financial support between $265 to $440 billion annually, while actual investments are around $120 billion. This deficiency underscores the challenge of bridging the gap between necessary and available funding for biodiversity conservation.

How can we value nature’s role in climate mitigation? 
Our prevailing economic model, overly focused on growth, often neglects the environment, resulting in potentially irreversible damage. We need an integrated approach to balance economics with environmental conservation. Wild animals and marine vegetation play crucial roles in climate mitigation, such as whales that sequester around 33 tons of CO2 or mangroves in the Florida Everglades that capture carbon valued at millions per square kilometre. Seagrass, often overlooked, provides a long-term economic benefit estimated over $1 trillion and supports marine life and shoreline protection. Yet, our current frameworks rarely assign these entities an explicit economic value. Recognising and quantifying their services will realign our strategies for biodiversity conservation and climate action.

What is the limitation of current nature-based solutions and what are the benefits of using wild animals and marine vegetation as NBS?
The current focus of NBS primarily on habitats like forests and wetlands may overlook the role of wild animals and marine vegetation, potentially missing opportunities for private investment. Wild animals and marine vegetation play critical roles in carbon sequestration and ecosystem health. By incorporating these entities into NBS, there's potential for attracting significant investments from financial markets, which can aid in climate mitigation and biodiversity conservation. These animals and vegetation, through their carbon services, offer a holistic approach to preserving ecosystems and addressing climate change.

How can we financially value nature’s contribution to climate mitigation? 
Whales are ecological giants, indirectly sequestering roughly 33 tonnes of CO2 through their krill consumption, which themselves feed on phytoplankton that sequester an equivalent of four Amazon Rainforests. Despite their immense climate mitigation role, whales face threats from ship collisions to pollution, largely because our economy doesn't assign them monetary value. Ironically, when quantifying the carbon they sequester, a living whale is worth an estimated $3 million.

The path forward? Building an economy rooted in natural preservation and prosperity. This involves introducing financial assets based on natural services, letting private entities, NGOs, and governments trade claims on these services. Governments would initially hold these claims, with investors aiming to profit from them. While profits could be monetary, they could also be in the form of carbon credits, incentivising carbon emission offsets. Ensuring resources' health is pivotal; investors should allocate funds for protection and restoration. Using blockchain, we can ensure transparency in conservation funding, making local communities the main beneficiaries. This system would pressure governments to enhance legal protections, likely imposing penalties for natural degradation. By establishing natural asset-backed securities, we'll align financial incentives with nature conservation.

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Ralph Chami

Ralph Chami

Ralph Chami, a 32-year-old financial economist, has been at the International Monetary Fund for 23 years and is currently the Assistant Director of the Institute for Capacity Development. He founded Blue Green Future, a strategy to combat climate change and biodiversity loss, focusing on species like whales and elephants as allies. Ralph has experience working with low-income and fragile states, providing policy advice, training, and capacity development on macro-financial economic policy. His expertise includes remittances, inclusive growth, financial markets development, banking regulation, and valuing natural capital.

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