Nature Conservancy Welcomes Lieberman-Warner Bill on Climate Change

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The following statement was issued today by Stephanie Meeks, acting president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy.

The following statement was issued today by Stephanie Meeks, acting president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy:

"We commend Senators Lieberman and Warner for their vital leadership on this critical issue, the most important environmental issue of our time.

Time is short. The planet is already changing; and people and nature are already feeling the impacts. Congress must act quickly to pass strong climate legislation that significantly reduces emissions from all sectors of the economy. The Lieberman-Warner bill offers a strong starting point for action.

A cap-and-trade approach, such as that reflected in the Lieberman-Warner bill, provides the greatest assurance that emissions will be reduced as needed and is likely to be the most cost-effective way to address climate change.

Conservation has a critical role to play in addressing the climate crisis, from reducing emissions from deforestation to finding ways for people and wildlife to adapt to a changing world.

Provisions to help wildlife and ecosystems
"We are especially pleased by the commitment to conservation and protecting wildlife and habitat reflected in the bill. Senators Warner and Lieberman have been leaders in recognizing the magnitude of the challenge climate change poses for the natural world and for all of us.

We all rely on nature - for water, air, food and shelter. Nature will change as the climate does, and we must help nature adapt for our own survival.

The bill would dedicate 20 percent of the expected revenues from the sale of emissions allowances, representing an estimated $2 billion or more per year in dedicated conservation funding in the early years of the program, increasing over time as the scope of climate change impacts is likely to become more evident. We look forward to working with Senators Lieberman and Warner to develop a comprehensive planning and science framework to ensure that this funding is directed to the greatest conservation needs.

Forest Carbon
"Globally, deforestation and forest degradation account for close to 20 percent or more of greenhouse gas emissions. Protecting forests and reforesting once-forested areas have critical roles to play in reducing emissions and unleashing a host of climate change, biodiversity, and other environmental, social and economic benefits. The cost-effective potential for reducing emissions through these activities is very large, and as yet untapped.

The bill introduced Thursday by Senators Warner and Lieberman would grant forest and land-use activities in the U.S. access to the carbon market provided that they can demonstrate real emission reductions or carbon storage. We are encouraged by the bill's recognition of the important role these activities can play. We look forward to working with the bill authors, the Environment and Public Works Committee, and the Congress to ensure that the U.S. fully leverages the power of its carbon market to conserve forests in those parts of the world where the greatest emissions are occurring.

Emission Caps
"The bill establishes strong caps in the early years of the program, though greater emission reductions will be needed over the long term. We look forward to working with the Congress as the bill advances to ensure that the caps in the bill reflect the best available scientific information about what will be needed to protect nature and those who depend on it from unacceptable risks of serious harm."

For more information on the Conservancy's climate change efforts, visit http://www.nature.org/initiatives/climatechange/.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 15 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 102 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at http://www.nature.org.

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Bridget Lowell