The Hidden Costs Of Environmentally-Damaging Businesses
OSLO, April 15 (Reuters) - Coal-fired power generation in Asia and cattle ranching in South America are the most damaging businesses for nature with hidden costs that exceed the value of their production, a U.N.-backed report said on Monday. Global output of basic goods from cement to wheat caused damage totalling $7.3 trillion a year if pollution, water, greenhouse gases and waste were priced to reflect long-term impacts, it said in a guide for businesses and investors. The study, by a business coalition for The Economics of Ecosystems and Bodiversity (TEEB), said there were wide uncertainties in the prices. The coalition's backers include the United Nations, World Bank, businesses and conservation groups. "The numbers in this report underline the urgency but also the opportunities for all economies in transitioning to a green economy," Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme, said in a statement. Coal-fired power generation in Asia, led by China, had estimated revenues of $443 billion a year but caused $452 billion in damage to nature, largely because greenhouse gases caused climate change and pollution harmed people's health. Cattle ranching in South America, especially in cleared parts of the Amazon forest, ranked second with damage estimated at $353 billion, largely because of stress on water supplies and deforestation that far exceeded revenues of $16.6 billion. Coal-fired power in North America was third in the ranking on damage to "natural capital", ahead of wheat and rice farming in Southern Asia, it said. "We are trying to focus the minds of busineses and investors onto natural capital" to encourage better practices, Dorothy Maxwell, director of the TEEB for Business Coalition, told Reuters.