What makes the value of a tree? The quality, quantity of timber it produces? That’s probably just the value of the dead tree. How about the live tree? The value of soil quality it maintains, the prevention of soil erosion? The value of the biodiversity it creates?
How about the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions? And oh by the way, each tree absorbs only 21 kg per year when it is fully grown. And it is estimated over a 100-year lifespan, it will absorb a tonne of carbon dioxide (because when it is young, it absorbs way less and it takes time to grow). And how much are we pricing/taxing a tonne of carbon dioxide in Singapore? $5 a tonne. That’s US$3.70 today. Yes, so we are saying, that a tree, living for 100 years, taking in carbon dioxide for us, and helping to ‘offset’ our emissions, is going to only contribute US$3.70 reduction to the industry’s tax dollars. No wonder we prefer to pay that than to plant a tree.
Not forgetting the value of the shade of the tree, the fruits it provides, but of course it also offsets the ongoing costs of irrigation, and maintenance of the tree. So the Singapore Green Plan claims that planting 1 million trees between 2020 to 2030 would allow us to absorb another 78,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. It is not clear if that statement is a per-year absorption or over the 10 year period. But yes, if it’s per year, it’s possible that because we manage to plant some insanely amazing carbon-absorbing tree that is immediately fully-growth, they can take in 78kg of carbon dioxide per year on average. Or if it’s over the 10-year period, then it’s only 7.8kg per tree per year, which is probably closer to the truth.
And yes, in case you’re wondering what this post is about; it really is about the fact that we are not taxing carbon dioxide enough to get anyone to do anything about it in Singapore. It’s clearly also about trees. Key message here is we need to grow more trees, and tax carbon more heavily.