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Podesta, Chafee to Lead Commission
on Climate and Tropical Forests

Bipartisan Group of Leaders to Offer Consensus Recommendations for Tropical Forest Conservation Provisions in U.S. Climate Policy

June 18, 2009 Washington, DC — A high-profile group of U.S. leaders in business, government, advocacy, conservation, global development, science and national security have assembled to provide bipartisan recommendations to Congress and the President about how to reduce tropical deforestation through U.S. climate change policies.

The newly formed Commission on Climate and Tropical Forests is led by co-chairs John Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress, and Lincoln Chafee, former Republican Senator from Rhode Island.

Commissioners include former elected officials and Cabinet members, corporate CEOs, leading scientists, military brass, conservation leaders, and international development experts.

Tropical deforestation is responsible for 20 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions worldwide – more than the entire global transport sector – and is the largest source of emissions in many developing nations. Increased emissions from deforestation could undermine the effectiveness of any new U.S. climate policies. In addition, the carbon sequestration capacity of these forests must be protected.

“Put simply, we will not succeed in addressing climate change without dramatically reducing tropical deforestation,” said Commission Co-Chair Lincoln Chafee. “The outstanding, bipartisan leaders that have joined the Commission on Climate and Tropical Forests will examine the threats posed by continued deforestation to our national security, economic stability and the viability of climate solutions now under discussion. The group’s diverse perspectives will inform what we hope will be clear, reasonable recommendations to Congress and the President.”

The Commission begins its work this month and plans to issue its recommendations in the early fall, when climate legislation is expected to be considered by the Senate and U.S. negotiators will be preparing for climate treaty talks in Copenhagen, Denmark. Information on tropical deforestation and the Commission’s work is available at www.ClimateForestsCommission.org.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act (Waxman-Markey bill) being considered by the House of Representatives includes provisions to combat tropical deforestation. The legislation, including its international forest provisions, will be hotly debated as it moves through Congress.

“It is encouraging to see from the Waxman-Markey bill that Congress is beginning to understand the importance of U.S. leadership on tropical forest conservation,” said Commission Co-Chair John Podesta. “There has never been a more important moment or a greater opportunity for U.S. policy makers to confront the threat of tropical deforestation. The Commission’s purpose is to help ensure that U.S. policy embraces this moment and creates strong, smart and effective tropical forest protections.”

“As a complement to domestic climate action, tropical forest conservation can reduce costs for U.S. companies, accelerate global climate solutions, help alleviate global poverty and protect some of the world’s most treasured natural places,” said Commission Executive Director Nigel Purvis, who is founder and president of the environmental consulting firm Climate Advisers. “This distinguished group of leaders will develop recommendations that will improve U.S. policy and help marshal an effective global response.”

In addition to Podesta and Chafee, Commissioners include:

  • D. James Baker, Director, Global Carbon Measurement Program, The William J. Clinton Foundation
  • Nancy Birdsall, President, Center for Global Development
  • Sherri Goodman, Former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Environmental Security
  • Chuck Hagel, Former United States Senator, Nebraska
  • Alexis Herman, Former Secretary of Labor
  • Robert W. Lane, Chairman and CEO, Deere ∓ Co.
  • Frank Loy, Former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs
  • Michael G. Morris, Chairman, President and CEO, American Electric Power
  • Thomas Pickering, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
  • Cristián Samper, Director, National Museum of Natural History
  • Lynn Scarlett, Former Deputy Secretary of the Interior
  • General Gordon Sullivan, Former Chief of Staff, United States Army
  • Mark Tercek, CEO, The Nature Conservancy

More information is available at www.ClimateForestsCommission.org.

The Commission on Climate and Tropical Forests, co-chaired by John Podesta and Senator Lincoln Chaffee, is a bipartisan group of leaders from business, government, advocacy, conservation, global development, science and national security developing recommendations on the best means to address tropical forest conservation as a part of broader U.S. climate change policies. Tropical deforestation accounts for 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and protecting tropical forests is integral to combating climate change. The Commission will release recommendations designed to help ensure U.S. climate policies provide the most effective response to this issue and are aligned with global solutions.

The Commission

Lincoln Chafee, Co-Chair

Former United States Senator, Rhode Island

John Podesta, Co-Chair

President and CEO, Center for American Progress

Sam Allen

President and Chief Executive Officer, Deere & Company

D. James Baker

Director, Global Carbon Measurement Program, The William J. Clinton Foundation

Nancy Birdsall

President, Center for Global Development

Sherri Goodman

Former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Environmental Security

Chuck Hagel

Former United States Senator, Nebraska

Alexis Herman

Former Secretary of Labor

Frank Loy

Former Under Secretary of State for Global Afairs

Michael G. Morris

Chariman, President and CEO, American Electric Power

Thomas Pickering

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

Cristián Samper

Director, National Museum of Natural History

Lynn Scarlett

Former Deputy Secretary of the Interior

General Gordon Sullivan

Former Chief of Staff, United States Army

Mark Tercek

CEO, The Nature Conservancy

Nigel Purvis, Executive Director

President, Climate Advisers


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