UK biodiversity unit market: trading permits to destroy nature as a way to protect it?

UK’s forthcoming biodiversity net gain requirement and its related proposal to create a market in biodiversity units raise serious concerns and questions.

There is absolutely no need for such a market from a conservation perspective; on the contrary, past experience suggests that such a market will likely weaken conservation outcomes. Launching such a market would thus have more to do in our view with creating a new environmental asset class for the City of London.

Problematic features include in particular the proposed allowance for ‘like or better’ offsetting, the allowance for restoring in advance and the choice of a high positive discount rate.

In order to truly address the 6th extinction of species, we believe that:

  • Biodiversity Net Gain objectives should be replaced by separate metrics for curbing destruction and for restoration;
  • Only like for like restoration should be allowed;
  • No market scheme should be created, no allowance for selling excess biodiversity units and for restoring in advance granted;
  • The Climate and Ecology Bill should be revised to prioritise curbing biodiversity destruction, and its reference to the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature should  be removed.

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