Putting the Environment on a Level Playing Field with Traditional Financial Measures: An IISD Paper

Nov 11, 2010 | Corporate Member News

“Crude Accounting for the Gulf of Mexico Inc.” by Dan Rubenstein, IISD, 2010. Paper, 11 pages, copyright: IISD

The need for consistent, decisive ecological accounting principles has been argued in professional circles for some time, but is perhaps never better illustrated than right now in aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon ecological catastrophe. This need was brought home for tens of thousands of BP PLC investors when they lost close to $100 billion in share value almost overnight. Rubenstein proposes a new model that uses the dollar values for ecosystem services calculated by ecological economists and links this data to the traditional 500 year-old accounting model. Rubenstein proposes improved disclosure of ecological risks such as deep-water spills in securities filings and actually recording charges for the consumption of nature’s carrying capacity in a company’s Income Statement. 

Access the paper here.

About the International Institute for Sustainable Development

The world is challenged by a changing climate, biodiversity loss, abject poverty and environmental degradation. What can make a difference? Good ideas. Creativity. Passion. Innovation. The achievement of change.


IISD is in the business of promoting change towards sustainable development. As a policy research institute dedicated to effective communication of our findings, we engage decision-makers in government, business, NGOs and other sectors in the development and implementation of policies that are simultaneously beneficial to the global economy, the global environment and to social well-being.

In the pursuit of sustainable development, we promote open and effective international negotiation processes. And we believe fervently in the importance of building our own institutional capacity while helping our partner organizations in the developing world to excel.

Established in 1990, IISD is a Canadian-based not-for-profit organization with a diverse team of more than 150 people located in more than 30 countries. Through our dynamic portfolio of projects, we partner with more than 200 organizations throughout the world. To learn more about our history, please visit the IISD Timeline.

Click here to learn more about our project work and programs, which are guided by our strategic institutional directions. And please visit our IISD Linkages site to follow our coverage of international negotiations on environment and development.

IISD is registered as a charitable organization in Canada and has 501(c)(3) status in the United States. IISD receives core operating support from the Government of Canada, provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Environment Canada, and from the Province of Manitoba. The Institute receives project funding from numerous governments inside and outside Canada, United Nations agencies, foundations and the private sector.

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