Legislation Includes Critical Provisions to Fight Climate Change by Ensuring Preservation of World's Forests and Natural Resources

Bill Directly Addresses Deforstation, Which results in One-fifth of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Landmark Vote Paves Way to Comprehensive Climate Change Policy

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 26, 2009)—The following statement was released by John F. Calvelli, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs at the Wildlife Conservation Society regarding passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454) by the House of Representatives on June 26, 2009:

The Wildlife Conservation Society applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. This landmark legislation offers a comprehensive strategy for battling climate change, its causes, and the myriad threats it poses to the air we breathe, the economy, and to wildlife and wildlife habitat across the globe. To meet the challenge, the bill calls for U.S. leadership and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, both at home and abroad, through a variety of means. WCS commends Congress for including among the critical components of the bill, provisions to fight climate change by ensuring preservation of the world’s forests and other natural resources.

Currently, deforestation results in one-fifth of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions – more than all cars, trucks, planes and ships combined. Decades of deforestation—much of which has occurred to support small-scale and unsustainable subsistence farming—has left indigenous peoples with a small fraction of their original forests and living in poverty. In addition, ecosystems upon which wildlife depends on for survival are destroyed in this process.

Key provisions included in H.R. 2454 allow for the sale of carbon credits generated by forest protection and avoided deforestation in developing countries to U.S. companies. This will allow those companies to remain competitive in a global market as new technologies are brought online. By allocating 5% of the overall value of emission allowances in a federal cap-and-trade system to halt emissions from cutting down trees, the bill also provides for the capacity building necessary for developing countries to make these emission reductions possible.

The Wildlife Conservation Society has a long history in the area of forest conservation and policy. Currently, WCS is helping countries around the world, in places like Cambodia, Chile, Bolivia, and Madagascar, protect their carbon resource interests while combating climate change. Financial incentives to protect forests are being used successfully in some of these places now - creating carbon-based revenue streams that provide an economic alternative to degrading and cutting forests. This system not only mitigates climate change but also protects the current and long-term interests of the local communities and the unique wildlife like tigers, gorillas, and jaguars that directly depends upon the forest for survival.

Along with putting in place mechanisms to help fight climate change, the legislation calls for critical funding, both domestic and international, to manage and adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change on our natural resources. This funding will promote the adaptation and resilience of fish, wildlife and other natural resources upon which people depend and that ultimately serve as indicators of human health in the U.S. and around the world.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit: www.wcs.org

Special Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to: www.wcs.org/donation