Panton: We can sell Cayman’s natural services

| 17/05/2022 | 81 Comments
Cayman News Service
Mangrove wetlands (photo by Omari Rankin)

(CNS): Premier Wayne Panton has said the Cayman Islands’ natural assets have real monetary as well as intrinsic value to the country that can be used to generate income, which in turn can be used to protect our environment. According to the set of ‘natural accounts’ that have been completed, the country’s natural resources are worth more than three billion dollars. Panton told CNS this isn’t just because they are beautiful or rare and fuel our tourism sector, but because of the climate services they can provide.

One possible example of this is selling the carbon-sequestering services of the Central Mangrove Wetlands, said Panton, Cayman’s first minister for sustainability and climate resiliency.

This idea goes beyond people and companies based in Cayman that want to offset their carbon footprint and could become a new green economic pillar for the jurisdiction if it offers services and creates vehicles that will allow corporations around the world to trade green credits.

Panton and his ministry recently secured a visit by economist Ralph Chami, the assistant director at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and co-founder of Rebalance Earth, which advocates for integrating natural capital into economies. Chami delivered a series of presentations about a nature-positive economy and how communities can raise money by selling the services that nature, from elephants and whales to seagrass and trees, can offer mankind.

Panton said that the creation of an exchange market where carbon credits and sequestering services could be traded could be a perfect fit for the Cayman Islands.

“There are nascent trading platforms around the world, but a place like Cayman would be a very convenient place, an ideal location… to develop a platform like that,” he said. “We have the largest contiguous mangrove forest in the Caribbean and to be able to put a value on that other than working out what the opportunity cost is for developing or not developing, this creates a whole other paradigm that is filled with new potential,” he said.

Panton said this idea gave him optimism about how Cayman will be able to finance future conservation and the necessary climate mitigation and resilience we need to address.

During his presentations, Chami explained how value is placed on nature in a way that financial markets can understand. Faced with the dual existential risks of both climate change and the loss of biodiversity, he said that the economy and nature cannot be separate as it is not external to us.

Chami said these new natural services markets have emerged as the financial world finally realises that economies exist within nature. The aim now is to assess and evaluate the services that the natural world provides every day, from oxygen supply to consuming toxins, and how much that is worth, then create ways that people pay for those services in order to protect the plants and animals providing them and their habitats.

Chami explained in detail how one blue whale provides the equivalent of $3 million just in carbon-sequestering services to earth during its lifetime, so preserving the whale requires us to protect the oceans where it swims.

When corporations that contribute to climate change through carbon emissions face more and stricter regulations, forcing them to offset that impact on the planet, financial vehicles that allow them to fund mangrove or seagrass conservation worth trillions of dollars in sequestering services will become another element in the cost of doing business. Even now, without the stick of regulations, companies are increasingly aware of the need to show to customers they are ‘green’ and meeting sustainability goals.

Panton said Chami’s work and approach to nature-based markets shows how Cayman can use its own natural assets that we know have a significant economic value.

“The Chami presentation really put in context a way to utilise our natural assets” more than just as a tourism attraction tool, the premier said. “We can put a value on the services that the environment provides in terms of carbon sequestering and sell those services.”

While the government can now turn its attention to preserving seagrass beds and mangroves through natural markets on crown land, much of Cayman’s most important natural resources are in private hands.

Up until now, many local landowners have only seen their land in terms of its development value, which has resulted in the removal of massive areas of mangroves and primary forest habitat, as well as the dredging of seagrass beds. The real possibility that landowners could make money from preserving their land instead of developing could be a real sea-change for conservation here.


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Category: Business, Climate Change, Financial Services, Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (81)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Psssttt! Heyyy!…Wayne!…
    They have started without you, old buddy. Did you even know? Strange that you did not mention this programme:
    The Cayman Islands National Trust is already partnering with a local non-profit organisation, Island Offsets, to provide an avenue for local businesses and individuals to offset their carbon footprint by donating to the mangrove fund for the purchase and preservation of mangrove habitats. Unconfirmed reports suggest that expansion internationally by Island Offsets and a carbon credits programme may be in future plans.
    As usual for the Panton-PACTless Clown Car: unaware, day late, dollar short.

    CNS: Re-read the third paragraph. We published a story recently (here) about a new Trust partnership that allows companies in the US to offset, but not companies further afield.

  2. Anonymous says:

    If we take a long hard critical look at Panton’s latest beloved gimmick, we can see that is has some major issues. (Are you listening Panton?) The ultimate irony and utter failure of this wacko smoke and mirrors ploy is this:
    It does not prevent the corporations that contribute to climate change through carbon emissions from continuing their emissions of carbon (and other pollutants). The carbon polluters buys credits that allow them to continue with pollution as usual. The carbon emitters pass the cost of the carbon credits to consumers, so the cost is a zero sum issue to the offending entities. In the end, if the carbon-sequestering species populations under protection are just balanced at current proportional emission/sequestering ratios and do not tip towards sequestering, then global warming will continue at the same rate and we all die anyway, but we can feel SO good about being Green as we say “Buh-bye!”. This balance assumes that the participating governments will properly allocate funds to protecting the sequestering species. However, the levels of inefficiency and corruption associated with governments in general would certainly hinder the process. In addition, providing the ability to buy carbon credits will make it easier for the carbon emitters to carry on polluting.
    The unduly large focus on carbon emission pollution is tunnel vision. The majority of large-scale carbon emitters also release other toxic pollutants into the local and global environments. Thus, we might buy time until humanity’s extinction from global warming, all the while hastening our extinction from other pollutants. Locally, we might use the money to protect mangroves from being destroyed but we will facilitate the carbon emitters who also release toxins which make their way into the marine environment.
    And another thing…! The Earth has endured for billions of years and in those aeons it morphed from a planet totally hostile to human life into one that spawned humans and allowed us to flourish. The planet’s evolution did not stop when humans arrived on the scene. It is not unreasonable to accept one possibility is that Earth will evolve into a planet with an environment that is no longer hospitable to human life and our puny efforts cannot prevent this. We do know that past warming cycles were certainly not anthropogenic. The current climate change cycle may not be entirely caused by human activity. Maybe Mother Earth is simply moving on without us.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So let me get this straight, the way forward that Panton is espousing is to get in bed with corporations that contribute to climate change through their carbon emissions and have them pay us for them to be able to carry on their polluting business as usual? That makes us facilitators of the polluting companies we lay with. Let’s be plain and up front about the Master Clown Car Driver’s idea: Panton wants the Cayman Islands to engage in Carbon Prostitution.

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    • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

      Perfectly said. That is indeed that scheme as I understand it.

      I don’t believe such C&T or carbon-credit or green credit ideas actually do an iota of good for any environment. It’s a fraud. Island paradises should steer well clear of such pogroms. We are out of their league, and glad for it.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Did I read this right? The polluting companies don’t stop polluting and Cayman isn’t planting more mangroves, Cayman just takes money from polluters and then both Cayman and the company can call themselves “green”?

    Where is something actually being done to protect the environment?

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    • Anonymous says:

      If you’ve read the story about the kings clothes then I’m sure you get the idea

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    • Anonymous says:

      you would expect this nonsense from mac….not our ‘green saviour’ panton……but goes to show the true colours/talent of no-plan-pact.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Ha! This is Cayman. Money cleanses the soul around these parts.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi, I’m Bill Polluter, I’ll pay you to not rip out those mangroves so that they continue to offset my pollution. – There, some mangroves actually protected.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Take a long weekend trip to Cayman Brac and see how much Panton’s flipping bunch of hot air spewers care about preserving the natural environment and sequestering carbon: you will see literally dozens of construction sites where the entire once pristine woodlands on those sites is 100% flattened by bulldozers and all the trees are hauled off to the government dump. Not a sapling or sprig left standing. We damn well DO need a means of sequestering carbon in light of all the hot air and putrid flatulence that Panton and his minions spew forth on a regular basis about how they are for protecting the environment. Haaaa! Only fools believe that! Panton takes us all for bloody fools.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    “We have the largest contiguous mangrove forest in the Caribbean” .
    If this statement does not illustrate Mr. Panton is somewhat delusional , & I’ll be polite here , I don’t know what will.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    just another cayman scheme/scam…..that makes us a luaghing stock on the international stage.
    menawhile we continue to burn diesel for electricity and pile up our garbage up in mountain overlooking our top tourist attraction.
    welcome to wonderland.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Can we sell that same acre of mangrove for carbon offsets to multiple corporations?

    Carry on, nothing to see here folks!

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  9. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know about you, but I read stuff like this and know full-well this is beyond the capability and brains of this lot.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Big man, gonna just leave it alone and concentrate on the main stuff like the state of the traffic, the dump and possibly the rampant destruction of the environment by developers who keep getting permission from authorities under your watch?

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Another bio-button scheme?

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Some sort of hocus pokus?

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  13. Anonymous says:

    “We have the largest contiguous mangrove forest in the Caribbean”

    Has he ever spoken to anyone, who might have spoken to someone who sailed down the Mosquito Coast of Nicaragua?

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Maybe we should collect a percentage of airline ticket fees to set up an “Environmental Protection Fund” that the PPM can steal from when they have cash shortfall? Oh wait…

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  15. anonymous says:

    Speaking of the environment, does anyone know what happened at the CPA meeting regarding Calico Jacks? Seems to be the best kept secret.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    I’ve got some magic beans here to sell.

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  17. Orrie Merren says:

    This seems like more of an opportunity for hypocritical billionaires (who fly around in private jets polluting the environment) to offset their guilt for destroying the environment.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    I thought Chami’s argument was that nature is a perpetual asset. How does selling it keep it on the balance sheet?

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  19. SKEPTICAL says:

    Oh dear – blinded by $ signs – So Cayman profits by selling its Green footprint resource to companies in other parts of the World so they can pump out carbon dioxide to their hearts content – nice image for us MR premier.

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  20. Unhappy Caymanian says:

    So Cayman will continue to concrete itself over and sell out (concrete is not known for its carbon capture ability).

    So does lip service to an environmental consciousness ease the burden for those generations of Caymanians who will follow and have nothing?

    It’s a bit too late for environmental tourism…or has nobody walked along 7 mile, sorry 6 mile, sorry 5 mile, sorry 2 mile beach recently and seen the architectural and environmental wonders.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    Wow, sounds like Eskimo Wayne just got sold a whole pile of snow.

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  22. Anonymous says:

    “Natural capital”? I hear an embarrassing PSA on a certain “”airy” station which tries to tell me otherwise.

    Anyway…”Sell”, yes Mr. Premier, in what context exactly? Asking for a developer friend.

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  23. Anonymous says:

    So if I understand this correctly, we’d be participating in a smoke & mirrors scheme for corporations that are keen to save face and show they are committed to the environment whilst still producing toxins elsewhere, – kind of like when Dart went to great lengths to show that used ‘styrofoam can be made into picture frames’ in his argument to prevent New York City from banning non-recyclable food containers.

    Wayne, you’re something else… 🌱🏭

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    • GT East says:

      Never in the history of the Cayman Islands has so much land been cleared as in the last 6 months …what on earth are we doing there seems no end to the madness and when I say last 6 months that does not include what was cleared in the last five years …

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      • Anonymous says:

        Wait till the Berksoy development gets goin! Sickenin what the PPM did with their developer buddies and they ain’t gawn yet.

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    • Wainful says:

      I think Wayne is in the wane.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Mr Premier, why is you Cabinet ploughing ahead with the road into the Ironwood Forest?

    The last time so much damage was done by misguided efforts to mitigate.

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    • Anonymous says:

      That is Jay and Kenneth

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    • Anonymous says:

      Ironwood schmironwood. What good is it anyway?

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      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry but no explanation to you would cause you to understand the reason or the destruction being caused by Jay and Kenneth in their grand PAYBACKS to their political sponsoring bosses.

        Jay and Kenneth seemed to be owned and directed by big developers just like their political teacher Big Mac sold us out to his benefactor bosses.

        This is destructive behaviour is being repeated even before it was old enough to be history.

        In Cayman our politicians get worse and worse.

        • Anonymous says:

          What’s most astounding is how bad of a Premier Wayne Panton is in no time flat. How so fast?

          • Anonymous says:

            If I had to guess, i would like to think that he came into the position with good intentions but the powerful circles in Cayman are exerting so much political pressure that he’s almost given up already and just does as he’s directed

            • Anonymous says:

              Kinda. Premier is product of the Peter principle.

              He has more confidence than competence. Bad combination.

  25. Anonymous says:

    “We have the largest contiguous mangrove forest in the Caribbean…”

    Do we really? I thought we’d already sold those…the ones that haven’t been dug up and thrown away.

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  26. Anonymous says:

    In related news, one of these days I’m going to come up with an idea worth $10 billion. Wait, I think I’m having one now, Bitpaper! Just a paper money usurped coins in the currency world so many years ago my Bitpaper is going to make me, and lots of other people, rich beyond your wildest dreams.

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    • Anonymous says:

      There are too many lawyers here that would ICO that. Recent Cayman-linked SEC indictments suggest there don’t need to be any sensible tests of principals or business plans. Even felons are welcome.

  27. Beaumont Zodecloun says:

    “One possible example of this is selling the carbon-sequestering services of the Central Mangrove Wetlands, said Panton, Cayman’s first minister for sustainability and climate resiliency.

    This idea goes beyond people and companies based in Cayman that want to offset their carbon footprint and could become a new green economic pillar for the jurisdiction if it offers services and creates vehicles that will allow corporations around the world to trade green credits.”

    I understand the words. What I don’t get is why we are buying into this level of complete bullshit. We CAN’T TRADE natural resources with ANYONE for worthless green credits. This is a horrible and resource-stripping scheme.

    This is like me promising to not litter on the road, and somebody paying me for being a good boy. Utter doublespeak crap. SO disappointed.

    Your duty, Mr. Premier, is to unflaggingly protect our natural resources, for when we’ve pissed them away, they are LOST, and so are we. You MUST stand tall in this quest. This is the very future of Cayman that we are talking about. Sustainable development. NO trades with global entities.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Trouble is Cayman’s politicians lack global awareness, which is why they make so many ill-fated decisions like this one. This is an old article. It speaks volumes. Carbon credits is like getting people to pay a fee so that they can continue to pollute, when they ought to be cutting emissions and paying fines for all the damage they’ve done!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Or, we could sell all our gas guzzling SUVs and large boats.

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  29. Anonymous says:

    Says the Premier that allowed cruise ships back in…

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  30. Anonymous says:

    I must say , a good Spin by Wayne, but not enough to distract sensible people from the real economic struggle that Cayman faces :Overall Inflation , Now mind boggling Cost of Living ,Cost of housing , among the rest.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Do you know somewhere that is not struggling with those issues?

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      • Anonymous says:

        Yes

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      • Anonymous says:

        Saw a FB post recently about cost of Lurpak butter in Cayman v UK. Visiting UK now. 500g Lurpak $20 in Fosters I saw in Uk store today for £3.27. Prices are going up UK yes, but this is a simple example of the extreme cost of living in Cayman. Reading a Yorkshire newspaper I can rent a 2 bed house for under £500 pm. My rent at home in Cayman for a tiny 1 bed is $1500 pm. Faced with a pension of only 1,000 pm in Cayman, I am seriously thinking of relocation to UK.

  31. GottaLoveIt says:

    So we can ‘sell’ our mangrove’s and preserve them, so that carbon is over-produced in other countries?

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  32. Caymanian says:

    I have a better idea, Panton – Why don’t you just leave nature alone! And focus on enforcing laws that will stop people from buying out our natural resource lands and beaches!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly!

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    • Anonymous says:

      It’s a politicians job to complicate things

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    • Anonymous says:

      I’m a tourist. How about stop the ridiculous building of the high rise buildings and highways and my family would be more likely to want to return. Our last visit in April felt like we were visiting NY city in a heat wave.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I am a “Caymanian” and I agree with you. I am petrified driving some days and it getting worse by the minute.
        The construction is mind boggling – someone need to start inquiring as to the “source” of funds.
        Something is not right here BoBo.

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      • Anonymous says:

        We agree with you but politicians and planning are greedy and don’t listen to their people

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  33. Anonymous says:

    Oh dear. More excuses to spend money like a fire hose.

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  34. Anonymous says:

    Panton talks from both sides of his mouth. One day he wants to protect the central mangrove wetland and the next he wants to put a road through it.

    Make your mind up Wayne!

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    • Anonymous says:

      It would make you sick to see who the land owners are that will benefit from the road…

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    • Anonymous says:

      We still need a road somewhere? Where would you suggest we build it? How much would we have to pay landowners to buy their land in front of their house? Then of course the cost of actually building the road? Everybody wants to save everything but there is a cost.
      I suggest we build a 6 lane highway through the middle of this island. The cost is zero to owners of land, as long as they are able to sell their land. They don’t care who buys it. It can be developers or environmentalists.
      Remember that money goes to our Government whenever land is sold. Its a win-win for the people of these islands.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Yesterday had to do a trip out East.
        Drove back and forth against the traffic each time and free flowing once you clear GT districts.
        Why is it that drivers again and again say ‘FIX GRAND HARBOUR ROUNDABOUT’ – this and the destination is obviously the problem right? But nope let’s add more lanes and highways to take you to this ball cruncher which now requires you to play a game of maze to cross it. Am begging these jokers to go back and rethink 🙄 don’t repeat and waste our money putting it in the pockets of others.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Send about 20 thousand of these people home.,.then we would not need all these “roads”! Simple… where will this madness end?

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly! He promised all of that and a slice of bread! It is called pandering to the not so bright among us. Next he will be importing elephants and blue whales! It is always better to first do the mundane and ordinary like getting a good bus system so some of us can feel comfortable taking the bus most days. Or perhaps getting the recycling up to scratch, stop allowing all the mangroves to be ripped out by the rich and famous etc., etc. The PACT could also look into the feasibility of offering a grant to some retired persons who can hardly afford to pay electricity, to install a few solar panels to reduce the bills. At least to cover the air conditioning, and the water heater.

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    • Anonymous says:

      As a well respected Headmaster once said ” small things amuses small minds”

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    • Anonymous says:

      Oh dear! Alice in wonderland pontificate again!

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  35. Anonymous says:

    “The Chami presentation really put in context a way to utilise our natural assets” more than just as a tourism attraction tool, the premier said. “We can put a value on the services that the environment provides in terms of carbon sequestering and sell those services.”

    This sounds really good, but, having attending Chami’s presentation, there is ALOT more work to do and I highly doubt that Cayman has any expertise within Government who will account for this properly. Just because it sounds good Premier, doesn’t mean it can easily translate into reality.

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