Last week, President Biden announced sharply more aggressive goals for reducing the US’s GHG emissions. Along with announcing his “30 by 30” goal and the dismissal of the 2019 Department of Justice’s lawsuit challenging parts of California’s cap and trade program, President Biden is clearly making climate change a White House priority. While we at The Climate Trust are thrilled about such news, we have also been tracking carbon markets long enough to know that words are one thing, actions entirely another. And that brings us to the sausage making known as legislation. Although less reported, last week also brought forth a new bi-partisan climate bill focused on increasing carbon offsets from forestry and agriculture.
The Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2021 bill, largely rewritten from last year’s version, and sponsored by 35 Senators from both sides of the aisle, aims to use the carbon markets to incentivize small landowners to change their management practices in a way that reduces or avoids GHG emissions. Carbon offsets are the science-based quantifications of those reductions, and they require a fair amount of technical expertise and funding to make them happen. Small landowners have largely been left out of the carbon offset market because of these barriers. The new bill aims to remove those barriers by tackling both issues and also ensures that foresters and farmers from disadvantaged communities have a seat at the table.
The bill passed out of committee on a voice vote on Thursday, April 22 and will now be considered by the full Senate. In its final version, we hope the bill will ensure that offset protocols are vetted along with technical providers. The bill, which is supported by dozens of businesses, farming and forestry trade groups and environmental organizations, is an encouraging sign that sound climate policy is an issue that bridges the political divide.
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