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Senate, Consider Deforestation as Part of Climate Bill

The climate bill passed by the House of Representatives in June would mobilize private-sector investments and would fund new technical assistance programs with a percentage of revenue from domestic emission-allowance auctions. The climate bill released last month by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) allows for a similar approach. While these are for the moment among the least-understood parts of pending climate change legislation, they deserve broad bipartisan support.

Coupled with meaningful reductions in domestic emissions, protecting climate forests is one of the most important as well as the most readily available and most cost-effective means of finding a path forward on climate change. For economic, security, humanitarian and environmental reasons, tropical forest conservation must be a centerpiece initiative of U.S. climate legislation and diplomacy. The alternatives — further delaying climate action, neglecting our responsibility as a global leader and failing to include robust protections for forests — threaten the vital national interests of the United States. We have the chance to lead, and we must take it.

Lincoln Chafee is a former Republican Senator from Rhode Island. John Podesta, a former White House chief of staff, is the president and CEO of the Center for American Progress.

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