Carbon and natural capital assets should be shared by the whole nation


Hamish Trench, Managing Director of the Scottish Land Commission.
Hamish Trench, Managing Director of the Scottish Land Commission.

Commenting on the rapidly developing sector, which currently exerts a major influence on the land market and land use decisions in Scotland, the Scottish Land Commission said yesterday that it is crucial that communities and local economies benefit and share this value.

Speaking ahead of a major conference to examine how these markets should be developed, the chief executive of the country’s land reform agency, Hamish Trench, said that if the values ​​of carbon and natural capital increase, as those now buying had anticipated, then it was reasonable that increasing the value of what was a shared national resource should create public and private benefits.

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Trench said Scotland has a great opportunity to use its land to drive a just transition to a net zero economy and that the new value and new investments associated with carbon and natural capital could bring significant benefits if they were well exploited.

He said the Land Commission is currently working to understand the effect of carbon and natural capital on the land market in order to advise the Scottish government and the industry on the risks, opportunities and actions needed to ensure the market works in the public interest.

“The rapid growth of new carbon and natural capital markets raises fundamental questions about how land is owned and used, who owns and benefits from carbon rights and natural capital, and how land is bought and sold,” did he declare.

But, conceding that interest in carbon and natural capital markets was driven in part by socially responsible investments from organizations seeking to be increasingly climate positive, he said others were drawn to the prospect of trading carbon credits and the anticipated future value. .

Stating that Scotland is well positioned due to its geography to operate in the market, he stressed the importance of creating a win / win situation where the economy and nature of the country share the benefits.

“This presents both risks and opportunities, it will be important that national and local economies and communities benefit from the changes and increasing value of land. Now is the right time to shape these markets in the public interest.

He added that on a more immediate note, those who buy land now for carbon, just like for any other motivation, should understand that with land rights there are responsibilities.

“There is a clear framework in Scotland setting out these expectations in the Land Rights and Responsibilities statement and the Land Commission good practice protocols which support its practical implementation,” said Trench, who added that those who seeking to invest or attract investment should also consider accountability governance that engages communities in both decision making and profits.

Natural capital is a key topic of the next Land Commission conference from October 4 to 6.


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