Bipartisan Report Claims Solving the Climate Crisis “Depends on Tropical Forests”

Bipartisan Report Claims Solving the Climate Crisis “Depends on Tropical Forests”
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The bipartisan Commission on Climate and Tropical Forests released an extensive report today calling on the Senate to consider tropical forest preservation as a central necessity in the climate bill in front of Congress.  The group suggests that solving the climate crisis will be “nearly impossible without urgent efforts to stem tropical deforestation.”

Ignoring this critical issue could undermine the effectiveness of any new U.S. climate policies, weaken the economy and threaten our national security in the coming decades.

The report concludes that U.S. climate policies

“must help address the pervasive effects of deforestation, which accounts for 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions – more than the entire global transportation sector. Without incorporating robust tropical forest protections into new U.S. domestic climate laws and international agreements, all our other immediate efforts – to reduce emissions, expand clean energy and improve fuel efficiency – could be undermined by the continued destruction of the world’s carbon-rich tropical forests. In fact, avoiding unacceptable risks of potentially catastrophic climate change is likely to prove nearly impossible without conserving the planet’s ‘climate forests.’”

The Commission – a coalition of business, government, national security and environmental experts co-chaired by former Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee and Center for American Progress CEO John Podesta – was created last spring to provide recommendations to Congress and the President on how to reduce tropical deforestation through U.S. climate change policies.  Commissioners include former elected officials and Cabinet members, corporate CEOs, leading scientists, military brass, conservation leaders, and international development experts.

“Protecting the planet’s climate forests and fighting climate change can be the defining bipartisan issue of our time, but so far that bipartisanship has been largely absent,” writes Chafee in the new report.  “Time is running out, and our actions now will have implications for generations to come.”

The group’s main message for Congress:

The United States should help lead a global partnership to halve greenhouse gas emissions from tropical deforestation by 2020 and reach zero net emissions from deforestation by 2030 – an ambitious but achievable goal.

By working toward that goal, the U.S. would also strengthen national security by reducing international instability and helping to alleviate global poverty.

The report calls for substantial U.S. investment in developing nations – at least $1 billion annually in public funding by 2012, ramping up to $5 billion by 2020, and up to $9 billion annually in private sector funds by 2020 – in order to preserve the carbon sequestration capacity of tropical forests and stem the growth of emissions. 

“Doing so could help reduce climate costs faced by U.S. companies by up to 50 percent, saving up to $50 billion by 2020 compared to domestic action alone,” the report concludes.

Deforestation will be a key topic at the upcoming Copenhagen climate summit in December, as negotiators grapple with the effectiveness of carbon offsets and debate the balance between investments in developing nations vs. developed nations.

The report is available for download from the Commission’s website.

Bipartisan Report Claims Solving the Climate Crisis “Depends on Tropical Forests”
Brendan is Executive Director of DeSmog. He is also a freelance writer and researcher specializing in media, politics, climate change and energy. His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, Grist, The Washington Times and other outlets.

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