Climate-Forests Agreement Reached

May 20, 2009 — Several of the nation’s top environmental groups, conservation organizations, and corporate leaders today released details of an agreement on policies aimed at protecting the world’s tropical forests. Ongoing burning and destruction of these forests is responsible for approximately one-fifth of total greenhouse gas emissions – more than all the world’s cars, trucks, planes, and ships combined.

The coalition includes: American Electric Power, Conservation International, Duke Energy, Environmental Defense Fund, El Paso Corporation, National Wildlife Federation, Marriott International, Mercy Corps, Natural Resources Defense Council, PG&E Corporation, Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, Union of Concerned Scientists, The Walt Disney Company, Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Woods Hole Research Center.

In the policies outlined by the agreement, companies would be eligible to receive credit for reducing climate pollution by financing conservation of tropical forests. In addition, five percent of the value of new greenhouse gas emission permits would be dedicated to tropical forest conservation. The full agreement is available on Avoided Deforestation Partners’ website at

“Chairman Waxman, Congressman Markey, and the entire committee deserve real credit for including these powerful tropical forest conservation measures in their legislation,” said Jeff Horowitz, founder of Avoided Deforestation Partners. “When environmentalists and major corporate leaders can agree, real change has come.”

Coalition members praised the agreement.

“These tropical forest protections will help make tackling climate change both more affordable and comprehensive,” said Michael G. Morris, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Climate legislation that appropriately values preservation of our world’s largest and most vulnerable forest regions is good for the planet, but also is good for the U.S. economy and electricity customers.”

“Fighting global warming and moving to a clean energy economy will require the world come together and protect the world’s tropical forests,” said Frances Beinecke, president of NRDC. “The United States needs to lead the way in protecting these forests by including the right incentives in the comprehensive climate change legislation moving through Congress.”

The agreement discusses the importance of protecting tropical forests for alleviating poverty, promoting peace and security, and protecting endangered wildlife. The agreement also includes specific protections for biodiversity, indigenous and forest-dependent communities, and the rural poor.

The signers of the agreement called for the United States to lead the effort towards international solutions to end global deforestation and solve the climate crisis.

“Strong protections for tropical forests are critical to solving climate change,” said Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club.

“To prevent the most dangerous impacts of climate change, we must conserve the world’s tropical forests,” said Peter Seligmann, chairman and CEO of Conservation International. “These investments will also protect the vital resources that forests provide — fresh water, food, medicine, and habitat for more than half of all the species on Earth. The United States needs to be at the forefront of protecting these vital assets, which are important not only for stabilizing the climate, but for ensuring the long-term security of all nations, including our own.”

“Preserving the rainforest is a key part of Marriott International’s environmental strategy and effort to combat climate change, and that’s why we’ve made a $2 million commitment to help protect 1.4 million acres of rainforest in Brazil,” said Arne Sorenson, President and Chief Operating Officer of Marriott International, and co-chair of the company’s Executive Green Council.

“When forests thrive, we all thrive,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

“As we transition to a lower-carbon economy, saving forests while protecting consumers from unnecessary price spikes is a goal we embrace,” said Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers.

“For the first time ever, a broad coalition of industry and environmental groups has come together to create incentives for developing countries to reduce their emissions from deforestation,” said Fred Krupp, President of Environmental Defense Fund.”This House bill uses a variety of funding sources, including the market, to make sure forests are worth more alive than they are dead.”

“Destruction of the world’s forests produces about 20 percent of the climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere each year – more than from all the planes, trains and automobiles on Earth,” said Mark Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “Additionally, millions of people around the world depend on forests for clean water, food, shelter and their livelihoods. These principles create a real chance to conserve tropical forests for people and nature.”

“The Wildlife Conservation Society applauds Congress for including the protection of tropical forests in the groundbreaking American Clean Energy and Security Act,” said Steven Sanderson, WCS President and CEO. “By adopting the deforestation principles developed by a united coalition of environmental and conservation groups, along with corporations, the United States will advance a viable option to truly mitigate climate change and give vulnerable animals like, tigers, jaguars and gorillas, as well as the human communities that rely on these forests for their livelihoods, a real chance for survival.”