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 solutions to climate change.
That message was delivered Monday (May 18) by a panel of experts to industry leaders, researchers, public officials and environmental advocates gathered in Denver, Colorado. The forum—hosted by Holland & Hart LLP and sponsored by The Nature Conservancy—is the second in a series of national meetings convened to explore the science, policy, and economic benefits of using forests to cut carbon dioxide emissions while promoting business development and conserving nature.
A Common Goal for Business and the Environment
“Avoided deforestation in the tropics is an opportunity for both the business community and the environmental community to achieve common goals,” commented James Holtkamp, head of Holland & Hart’s Global Climate Change Practice Group. “For the business community, the ability to invest in protection of biodiversity, watershed, scenic values, and carbon sequestration can yield both direct and indirect results, including the ability to create and use offsets in the emerging carbon markets.Joint efforts with business to reduce tropical deforestation will reduce the rate of anthropogenic carbon released to the atmosphere and will preserve the planet’s remaining remarkable biosphere.”
Forum attendees included keynote speaker Alice Madden - representing the Governor’s Office, representatives from Xcel Energy and John Deere, Colorado state legislators and staff, key state agencies, and nonprofits active in addressing climate change such as The Wilderness Society, Environmental Defense Fund and The Nature Conservancy.
Going, Going, Gone
Forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. One acre of forest is destroyed every second – a total of 37 million acres every year, equal to an area over half the size of Colorado.
All told, 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.
To be successful in the fight against climate change, the world must develop new, cleaner energy sources. But the transition to a low carbon economy will take time and cost money. Protecting forests is cost-effective and it can be an immediate part of the solution. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air and store it in their fibers. By supporting forest protection projects overseas, Colorado businesses can earn valuable carbon credits and keep costs of emission reductions low, allowing the savings to be passed on to American consumers.
“At the current rate of destruction, tropical forests in the developing world will virtually disappear within 100 years, making it nearly impossible to alter the path of climate change” said Charles Bedford, state director of The Nature Conservancy. “These forests capture and store carbon for us. Without them, we will have to take more drastic measures.”
To win the battle against climate change, emissions must be reduced from all sectors – transportation, industry, energy and forests. Currently, the U.S. Congress is debating this issue with multiple pieces of legislation being considered.
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.