If I combine the ideas of my land tax post, and my post on Tony Abbott, I end up with a generalised principle of scarce resources. That is, that productivity gains across the economy accumulate as capital value of scarce resources that have few substitutes, with land being the ultimate example of this principle.
As we find dwindling environmental assets such as wild fish stocks, scarce rights to harvest fish begin to accumulate value due to economy wide productivity gains. Australia is separating land and water rights as part of National Water Reform, and these finite water rights will also exhibit this general principle.
Most interestingly, and permits from the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme will have this characteristic.
We will make a transition from a society where wealth accumulates in land, to one where wealth also accumulates in various rights to other finite resources. I'm not saying this is bad. In fact the creation of finite rights is the best way I can think to place a value on scarce environmental assets.
I guess my point is that investing in these new finite rights to the environment is one way to invest in the protection of the environment. Simply buying and holding these rights will accumulate wealth in much the same way that land traditionally has. Of course, buying land and not developing (or even improving the environmental condition of the land) is a fantastic way to invest in the environment.
*Please note this idea is not yet fully developed. Any ideas/comments are appreciated.