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Late this afternoon, Congressmen Henry Waxman and Ed Markey released a discussion draft for energy and climate change legislation they plan on moving through the House of Representatives.

This is one of many steps the House, Senate and Obama Administration will need to take to craft comprehensive legislation on climate change.

My colleague, Eric Haxthausen, director of U.S. Climate Policy for The Nature Conservancy, had this to say about the bill:

The discussion draft offers a critically needed step toward a climate change solution that protects both people and nature, while ensuring a robust U.S. economy.

It is especially notable that the draft bill contains a broad recognition of the important role that conservation can and must play as a powerful tool against climate change and its impacts.

We cannot fight climate change without addressing emissions from deforestation, which accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Preventing forest destruction and restoring degraded forest lands are critical parts of a climate change solution.

The Waxman-Markey draft acknowledges the potential opportunity for businesses to invest in forest carbon activities, helping minimize costs as they transition to clean technologies — resulting in savings that will be passed on to American consumers. Nature provides trillions of dollars in goods and services to our economy — including food, clean water, recreation and agriculture.  Investing in protection of those natural resources will provide huge economic benefits for generations to come.

The Waxman-Markey draft also calls for funding for programs that will protect and strengthen our natural resources nationally and internationally so they can withstand the impacts of climate change and continue to provide us with the food, clean water, shelter and income we all rely upon for survival. Restoring and strengthening natural systems is a cost-effective approach that can stabilize communities and economies from the impacts of climate change.

As policy makers around the world intensify efforts to develop a new global climate change agreement in time for the Copenhagen meeting next December, the process laid out by Chairmen Waxman and Markey can provide a timely and important basis for the Obama administration to provide important leadership to those negotiations.

The Nature Conservancy looks forward to working with Chairmen Waxman and Markey and other members of the Energy and Commerce Committee on both sides of the aisle as this process moves forward.

(Photo: The U.S. Capitol. Credit: Jonathon D. Colman through a Creative Commons License)

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