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Conservation International Board Member Andy Karsner to Testify Before Congress Climate Crisis Committee on Urgent Need for Market Reforms and Redesign

October 22, 2019

Testimony to Urge Congress to Fix “Misalignment Between Markets and Nature”

Washington, D.C. (October 22, 2019) – Conservation International Board Member Andy Karsner — an expert strategist in technology, policy and finance — will testify before Congress today at the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis at a hearing entitled: Solving the Climate Crisis: Natural Solutions to Cutting Pollution and Building Resilience. The committee is charged with delivering ambitious climate policy recommendations to Congress.

Karsner served in the United States Department of Energy as Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in the Bush Administration.

Karsner’s testimony begins with the dire truth that the impacts of the climate crisis are already upon us — and they will likely induce “a cascade of irreversible and poorly predicted economic consequences.” 

Karsner will then map out how this crisis can be turned into opportunity if market forces and policy are allied with nature: “Congress and this Committee in particular have an enormous opportunity to galvanize all Americans to apply our nation’s strengths to the magnitude of the challenge we collectively face. Principal amongst these is our unparalleled capacity to induce innovation and scale technological progress through market penetration at incredible speeds.” 

A key factor to meeting this challenge is “natural currency,” the market-based methodology of unleashing the value of natural capital. Karsner will assert that “Natural capital is a well-known and respected tenet of conservation and ensures that nature is inventoried and valued for its ecosystem services beyond its extractive value,” and explain how natural currency goes a step further by endeavoring to “enable efficient markets for price discovery and exchange of ecosystem services that align the interest of people with the health of their natural habitats.”

Additional key points, quotes and recommendations from Karsner’s testimony:

  • “Economic effects have already been set in motion … The market has already begun to take account of climate change, noting the insufficiency of policy guardrails and has started discounting and devaluing real estate — our homes, schools, small businesses, factories and infrastructure — accordingly.”
  • “We must modernize and design policies commensurate with the abundance of innovation that is revolutionizing our agriculture, food, forestry, aquaculture and oceanic ecosystems, along with the global supply chains that connect them to the modern economy. This is the surest way to maintain American economic competitiveness, standards of living and prospects for long-term prosperity as we adapt to new climate realities.”
  • “Capitalism and our personal freedoms are cornerstones of modern society, but they are incomplete without a companion sensibility: the understanding that we are symbiotically enmeshed with the systems that make life possible, and that we must preserve them.”
  • “The fastest way to scale all of these changes is to address the core of the problem: the misalignment between markets and nature.”
  • “There is no possibility whatsoever that this country, or any country, can tithe or tax its way to a solution in the relevant timeframe. It is essential that we address market imperfections and harness market forces to enable the scaled benefits of nature-based solutions.”
  • No other source of deep decarbonization is more readily available, nor more measurably attainable, than the power of nature itself. Therefore, I encourage the Committee, in its final report, to prioritize and recommend on a bipartisan basis, that the value of natural conservation, assessed and delivered through technological innovation, be paramount.”

Video of the hearing is available here.

About Conservation International

Conservation International uses science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature that people rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods. Founded in 1987, Conservation International works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports us all. Learn more about Conservation International, the groundbreaking  "Nature Is Speaking" campaign and its series of virtual reality projects: “Drop in the Ocean”"My Africa,"  “Under the Canopy" and "Valen's Reef." Follow Conservation International's work on Conservation News, our blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.