Business should get credit for saving forests, coalition says


Companies also should get credit for supporting farming activites that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the groups said.

They argue American farms can play a “major role” in sequestering carbon and reducing emissions.

Senators writing climate legislation should allow companies to offset their carbon emissions through forest conservation or green farming techniques, the coalition of energy companies, environmentalists, and farm and timber groups said.

A letter Monday from 31 parties including utility giant American Electric Power, the American Forest and Paper Association, the National Farmers Union and the Sierra Club calls for incentives for conserving forests in both the U.S. and tropical nations.

“We strongly believe that any successful comprehensive energy and climate change legislation must include forests and farms as a significant part of the solution,” states the letter, which was sent to Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “By providing an affordable means to address climate change, public and private incentives (such as offsets) for forests and farms can help Americans save money while leading the way to a low carbon economy.”

The various groups want to ensure that industries — including power companies — facing emissions reduction mandates could meet them in part with actions such as rainforest conservation (deforestation is a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions). 

Climate legislation approved in the House last year allows widespread use of "offsets" to help companies meet their emissions requirements. The new letter signals an effort by energy companies and forest preservation advocates to keep such policies in the mix as a competing Senate climate bill takes shape.

The letter argues that this kind of policy helps American timber, meat and other interests, because illegal logging of tropical forests undercuts U.S. goods.

“By providing public and private incentives for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation activities (REDD), we can address the 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions that come from tropical deforestation while helping keep energy costs affordable for U.S. agriculture, forest products industries, and consumers,” states the letter, which is also backed by Duke Energy, Conservation International, the National Alliance of Forest Owners, among other signers.

“Protecting these forests will also help level the playing field for U.S. agriculture and forest products industries by reducing illegal logging and forest conversion in tropical countries, ensuring fair competition in wood, pulp, beef, leather, soybeans, and other global markets,” it adds.



Here's the whole letter:

American Bird Conservancy * American Electric Power
American Forest and Paper Association * American Forest Foundation
Avoided Deforestation Partners * Coalition for Emission Reduction Projects
Conservation Forestry * Conservation International * Dominion * Duke Energy
Environmental Defense Fund * Green Diamond Resource Company
Hardwood Federation * Maine Forest Service * Marriott International
National Alliance of Forest Owners * National Association of State Foresters
National Farmers Union * National Wildlife Federation * New Forests
NorthWestern Energy * Ohio Corn Growers Association * Pacific Forest Trust
PG&E Corporation * Pinchot Institute * Sierra Club * Society of American Foresters
The Nature Conservancy * Trust for Public Land * Union of Concerned Scientists
Wildlife Conservation Society

The Honorable John Kerry
218 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Lindsey Graham
290 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Joseph Lieberman
706 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

March 22, 2010

Dear Senators Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman,

Thank you for all your hard work to secure action on energy and climate change.
We strongly believe that any successful comprehensive energy and climate change legislation
must include forests and farms as a significant part of the solution. By providing an
affordable means to address climate change, public and private incentives (such as offsets)
for forests and farms can help Americans save money while leading the way to a low carbon
economy.


American agriculture can play a major role in sequestering carbon and reducing greenhouse
gas emissions. Providing strong incentives to American farms and ranches can help feed
and fuel the world and do it in a way that involves American agriculture in the energy and
climate solution – while bringing increased prosperity to rural America.


American forests, including working forests and wood, already sequester about one eighth of
U.S. carbon emissions, with the potential for much more. Strong incentives for
reforestation, sustainable forest management, and forest conservation will create jobs and
safeguard America’s energy future.


Conservation, restoration, and sustainable management of tropical forests must also play a
significant role. By providing public and private incentives for Reducing Emissions from
Deforestation and Degradation activities (REDD), we can address the 15 percent of
greenhouse gas emissions that come from tropical deforestation while helping keep energy
costs affordable for U.S. agriculture, forest products industries, and consumers. Protecting
these forests will also help level the playing field for U.S. agriculture and forest products
industries by reducing illegal logging and forest conversion in tropical countries, ensuring fair
competition in wood, pulp, beef, leather, soybeans, and other global markets.


We look forward to working with you to ensure that forests, farms and ranches help deliver
an effective and affordable solution to climate change and a new energy future.


Sincerely,

American Bird Conservancy
American Electric Power
American Forest and Paper Association
American Forest Foundation
Avoided Deforestation Partners
Coalition for Emission Reduction Projects
Conservation Forestry
Conservation International
Dominion
Duke Energy
Environmental Defense Fund
Green Diamond Resource Company
Hardwood Federation
Maine Forest Service
Marriott International
National Alliance of Forest Owners
National Association of State Foresters
National Farmers Union
National Wildlife Federation
New Forests
NorthWestern Energy
Ohio Corn Growers Association
Pacific Forest Trust
PG&E Corporation
Pinchot Institute
Sierra Club
Society of American Foresters
The Nature Conservancy
Trust for Public Land
Union of Concerned Scientists
Wildlife Conservation Society


CC: Senator Harry Reid
Senator Debbie Stabenow
Senator Maria Cantwell
Senator Susan Collins
Senator Michael Bennet
Senator Jeanne Shaheen

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