Protecting global forests is a critical strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and can help American businesses control their costs as the nation searches for a solution to climate change.
That’s the message delivered Thursday (April 16) by a panel of experts to industry leaders, researchers, public officials and environmental advocates gathered in Columbus, Ohio. The conference, sponsored by The Nature Conservancy, is the first of a series of meetings convened to explore the science, the policy, and the economic benefits of using forests to cut carbon dioxide emissions while promoting business development and conserving nature.
“Forests have a critical role to play in promoting the well-being of both our environment and our economy,” said Rob Portman, a former U.S. Congressman from Ohio, a former member of The Nature Conservancy’s Board of Directors, and author of the Tropical Forest Conservation Act. “Forests produce raw materials for many of the products that American consumers buy every day, but they also have the potential to make great reductions to the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere,” said Portman, who delivered the keynote address. About 20 percent of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere each year come from the destruction of forests – more than from all the planes, trains and automobiles in the entire world. And forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. One acre of forest is destroyed every second – a total of 37 million acres every year, or an area larger than Ohio.
Fortunately, preventing forest destruction is one of the most cost-effective methods available to combat climate change. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air and store it in their fibers. By supporting forest protection projects overseas, Ohio businesses can earn valuable carbon credits and keep costs of emission reductions low, allowing the savings to be passed on to American consumers.
Ohio businesses are already investing in these projects and say they will continue to do so. Columbus-based American Electric Power has supported projects in Bolivia, Belize, and Brazil.
“To be successful in the fight against climate change, the world must develop new, cleaner energy sources,” said Susan Tomasky, President of AEP Transmission. “But the transition to a low carbon economy will take time and cost money. Protecting forests is cost-effective and we can do it now, so it is an important part of the solution.”
The Ohio gathering is the first of a series of similar events scheduled across the country in coming weeks, including in Denver, Atlanta and Nashville. “The Conservancy is sponsoring these meetings because climate change represents one the greatest threats to the Conservancy’s global mission of protecting plant and animal diversity,”said Josh Knights, the Ohio Executive Director for the Conservancy.
“Given our mission, experience and values, the Conservancy believes that partnerships with government and the private sector to conserve forests is a powerful way to combat climate change, preserve endangered habitats, and provide economic relief to businesses reducing their emissions,” Knights said. The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.