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Curtailing tropical deforestation vital to U.S. interests

Curtailing tropical deforestation is vital to U.S. national interests as a cost-effective means to slow climate change, argues a new report issued by the bipartisan Commission on Climate and Tropical Forests. Deforestation accounts for more than a sixth of global carbon dioxide emissions, more than the entire transportation sector.

The report, titled “Protecting the Climate Forests: Why reducing tropical deforestation is in America’s vital national interest,” calls for American leadership on a global effort to halve emissions from deforestation by 2020.

“It is truly time for America to launch a comprehensive response to this manageable threat,” former Rhode Island Senator and Commission co-chair Lincoln Chafee said in a statement. “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. The Commission strongly urges our elected leaders to recognize the obligation we have and embrace this opportunity for collaboration. Time is running out, and our actions now will have implications for generations to come.”

“Protecting the Climate Forests” says the effort to reduce emissions from deforestation can be financed by a “well-designed” cap-and-trade program. It lays out thirteen recommendations for addressing tropical deforestation through U.S. policy, including public funding to kick start the initiative; allocating 5 percent of the value of tradable emission permits in a cap-and-trade program to new international forest conservation programs; and allowing regulated U.S. companies to ‘offset’ a substantial portion of domestic emissions through investments in tropical forests. The report estimates that investments in tropical forest conservation “will save U.S. consumers and companies $50 billion by 2020 compared to the cost of pursuing comparable domestic climate strategies alone.”

“A low-carbon economy holds tremendous potential for American job creation – but we have to get there first,” said former Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman. “A smart climate policy would address the near-term costs of transitioning to clean energy, and protecting tropical forests as part of that policy provides a solution. Not only can we reduce a major source of CO2 – we can also lay a solid foundation for a new economy built on energy efficiency, advanced renewable power, smart grids and beyond.”

The report is available at


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