Capitalizing on externalities

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The Telegraph of London calls him “the plutocrat of poo.” More to the point, Al Tank is the CEO of AgCert – an ingenious startup which capitalizes on agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol to turn effluent into cash.

AgCert is as close to alchemy as modern times allow. It has been created to profit from the new market in rights to pollute. What it does is help farmers to generate fewer greenhouse gases than they are permitted to do. And then it sells their unused pollution rights to industrial companies which are then allowed to pollute a bit more than they would be.

This innovative business model must be praised. Agricultural waste and byproducts create 20% of the earth’s carbon emissions, and methane gas is among the most harmful of these wastes. More such ventures are likely as concerns regarding climate change continue to escalate.

The IFC has invested in AgCert as the company continues to grow. Currently operating in Latin America and Canada (and selling to Europe) the company plans to expand to Asia -- half of the world’s pigs live in China alone, and pigs are Tank's specialty.

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