Natural capital is what nature provides to us for free. Renewables – like species – keep on coming, provided we do not drive them towards extinction. Non-renewables – like oil and gas – can only be used once. Together, they are the foundation that ensures our survival and well-being, and the basis of all economic activity. In the face of the global, local, and national destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems, economist Dieter Helm here offers a crucial set of strategies for establishing natural capital policy that is balanced, economically sustainable, and politically viable.
Helm shows why the commonly held view that environmental protection poses obstacles to economic progress is false, and he explains why the environment must be at the very core of economic planning. He presents the first real attempt to calibrate, measure, and value natural capital from an economic perspective and goes on to outline a stable new framework for sustainable growth. Bristling with ideas of immediate global relevance, Helm's book shifts the parameters of current environmental debate. As inspiring as his trailblazing The Carbon Crunch, Natural Capital will be essential reading for anyone concerned with reversing the headlong destruction of our environment.
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Dieter Helm is Fellow in Economics, New College, Oxford. He is also Professor of Energy Policy and Professorial Research Fellow, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford. He lives in Oxfordshire, UK.
"The book is a valuable contribution, written by an author who knows his subject and cares deeply about his message."
– Nick Hanley, Nature
"The critical state of Nature demands a response – this book is an important new contribution to finding solutions based on enlightened economics and ecology. It takes a blueprint and turns it into a programme that aims to maintain the assets forming the planet's life support systems and to change the way we value the legacy we pass on to the next generation."
– MIke Clarke, Chief Exectutive, RSPB
"Dieter Helm is an optimist, and we need optimists right now. He believes that there is an answer to the havoc that we are wreaking on the environment, and that answer is to put a value on nature, for its intrinsic worth, its beauty and its economic utility. He writes with charm and clarity about how that valuation should be done. Now we need to show how we can put the idea into practice to support economic growth. The National Trust is ready to play its part."
– Helen Ghosh, Director General, The National Trust
"Anything that Dieter Helm writes on natural capital deserves to be read. This book is no exception. Here you will find a clear and reasoned explanation as to why putting the environment at the heart of our economy is the only way to attain a sustainable future. Helm not only explains eloquently the economic arguments for this approach but also demonstrates how to finance the transition."
– Ed Barbier, author of Capitalizing on Nature: Ecosystems as Natural Assets
"A clear and concise account of the natural capital issues facing our planet, combined with a compelling proposed agenda for doing something about them."
– Joe Grice, Director and Chief Economist, Office for National Statistics
"The current environmental challenge may seem overwhelming, but Natural Capital has the keys to unlock the gateway to sustainability. Superbly written, it is a thoroughly up-to-date classic and indispensable volume for anyone interested in a better future."
– Thomas E. Lovejoy
"[...] important, well written and substantive"
– Jonathan Porritt, Resurgence & Ecologist
"This engaging book offers a coherent package of practical solutions [...] Natural Capital should be required reading for policy-makers, economists, environmentalists, and all those concerned about sustainable growth and development."
"I welcome this thought-provoking contribution to a crucial debate about how we take better account of natural capital in economic decision-making. It sets out both the enormity of the problem and the challenges in addressing it, but also proposes many practical recommendations for the way forward."
– David Nussbaum, Chief Executive, WWF-UK
"To discuss how we should treat the vast range of the bounties of nature, he brings to bear a long career of combining the pragmatic with the academic [...] He writes with clarity and precision, even when attempting to explain the complexities of national accounting and its relationship to natural capital."
– Frances Cairncross, Prospect
"An important and serious book"
– Andrew Sells, Country Life
"Natural Capital presents [...] interesting insights from the policy coal face, and some clear recommendations from economics on how to approach sustainable development."
– Ben Groom, Journal of Economic Literature