In his address to a joint session of Congress on February 24, 2009, President Obama asked lawmakers to send him “legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution.” It was a clear message that the United States is now fully engaged in the fight to address climate change.
The 111th Congress seems ready to answer this challenge. The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, sponsored by Henry Waxman (CA) and Ed Markey (MA), passed the House by a floor vote on Friday, June 26, 2009.
U.S. Policy and Global Climate Change
As a global leader, the U.S. has an opportunity to promote new and innovative climate solutions—both in scope and scale—that are cost-effective and efficient. We believe this should be done here in the U.S., in our bilateral relationships, and as a key player in the international process.
LEARN MORE: CI works with communities worldwide to help mitigate climate change. Find out more about these unique partnerships.
Conservation International is engaged with the Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress to ensure that U.S. climate legislation – as well as U.S. positions in international negotiations – include strong provisions for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD), and provide significant funding for international adaptation efforts that will serve to stimulate financial contributions from other nations, the private sector and NGOs.
Moving the Country Forward
The American Clean Energy and Security Act includes a U.S. economy–wide cap and trade system for greenhouse emissions. The bill addresses deforestation of tropical rainforests through a combination of public funding and incentives for investment in international forest carbon. In addition, the bill provides funding for international adaptation and clean technology transfer. CI believes that this bill represents an important first step and will be working to strengthen this legislation as it advances in the coming months.
U.S. actions will play a significant role within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in helping to craft a new international agreement to address climate change. Thus, not only is this bill critical for reduction of domestic emissions, but its components will also serve as an important signal to the negotiators of an international agreement on climate change in Copenhagen this December.
The President is also using other international gatherings, such as the Major Economies Forum (MEF) and the meetings of the G8, to further address the issue of climate change. These meetings bring together the larger economies and the largest emitters to seek greater common ground on difficult issues, such as emission reduction targets and financing to help the developing countries most at risk of the impacts of climate change. Positive outcomes from these meetings in Italy this month should help facilitate a strong international agreement in Copenhagen.
IN DEPTH: CI's Climate Change Strategy
A Trusted Advisor
CI’s efforts focus on the development of U.S. policy and legislation that addresses both the global conservation crisis and climate change at a scale that can protect whole ecosystems while supporting human well-being. CI experts bring years of scientific expertise as well as results from the field and project implementation to inform action on these complex climate issues. Examples of CI’s engagement include:
- Meeting with U.S. Administration officials to advise on issues of deforestation and international adaptation in the development of U.S. proposals to the UNFCCC and other international gatherings.
- Meeting with U.S. congressional offices to ensure that U.S. climate legislation has strong reduction targets and includes robust provisions for the associated issues of deforestation and international adaptation.
- Working with coalitions that represent a cross-section of the environment, development and faith-based communities as well as industry to ensure that the U.S. takes aggressive action to combat climate change, such as setting science-based emission reduction targets, and addressing global deforestation and adaptation needs.
The Big Picture
Lowering emissions from energy production and energy use must be central to any climate change strategy. The twin challenges of climate change and energy security require us to innovate, to reduce our environmental footprint and to become more efficient and productive in the way we use energy and natural resources.
TAKE ACTION: Protect an acre of tropical forest for only $15.
As we pursue new technologies to tackle these challenges, we must also harness nature’s services—including forests and other critical ecosystems—to help the global community immediately respond to climate change.
Climate change cannot be effectively addressed without incentives to curb deforestation and degradation – which now accounts for over 20 percent of global emissions. Protecting these vital resources is something that can be done immediately, while delay will cause irreversible loss.
Combating deforestation will also enable the world to achieve far deeper emissions reductions at a reasonable cost than would otherwise be possible. By protecting their forests, developing countries can not only contribute to abating climate change without sacrificing economic development, but also maintain the ecosystem services that are so critical to the forest-dependant communities of these countries.
The Bottom Line
If we don’t take immediate action to incorporate forests and biodiversity into our approach to climate change, we risk missing major opportunities to reduce emissions, and strengthen every person’s resilience in the face of a changing global climate. CI is working consistently and strategically to make sure this window of opportunity does not slip away.
READ MORE: The Road to Copenhagen: Climate's Big Picture