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
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:
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.