To reach the United States’ target of reducing net emissions by 50-52 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, the federal government and non-federal actors will need to increase the ability of natural and working lands to sequester and store carbon. A recent economy-wide analysis finds that reaching these climate goals will require the United States to enable its lands and forests, or its land carbon sink, to remove at least 913 Mt CO2e annually by 2030, which represents a 13 percent increase in yearly sequestration over 2019 levels. This increase in sequestration would be equal to the emissions from over 20 million cars every year.
To achieve this, the nation must restore trees to the landscape, increase the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices and protect landscapes that already store carbon. Federal investment and action from all levels of society can allow the United States to achieve the full potential of these pathways, creating jobs and other economic benefits in the process.
Congress has a historic opportunity to invest in these practices and demonstrate climate leadership in advance of COP26 through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda, which Congressional leaders are looking to implement through a budget reconciliation bill. As they are written, these bills would channel unprecedented levels of funding to incentivize climate-smart practices on private land, reduce wildfire risk, improve forest carbon inventories and build a climate workforce, moving the nation closer to realizing the potential of its land carbon sink.
Ambitious and immediate federal investment in these areas could also create hundreds of thousands of jobs; offer local, state and federal tax revenue; and add value to economies in every state across the United States. The win-win combination of climate benefits and job creation would help advance the nation toward a sustainable new climate economy.
These bills face ongoing negotiation, and there is concern that funding for lands and conservation could decrease in the face of pressure to limit spending across Biden’s agenda. As these two bills move through the legislative process in the coming weeks, Congress needs to ensure that lands remain a priority and funding levels remain robust to reflect the urgent need for this investment and the economic benefits it will bring.
Here are three pathways for tree-based carbon removal, which should be a priority for federal funding in both bills:
- Reforesting and restocking trees
- Wildfire risk mitigation
Read the full article about federal investment in forest conservation by Haley Leslie-Bole at GreenBiz.
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