Washington, DC – Today, the Bipartisan Policy Center announced it is launching the Farm and Forest Carbon Solutions Initiative under its Energy Project. The initiative will develop policy recommendations that incorporate agriculture and forestry as part of climate mitigation and shift the United States towards a low-carbon future. The effort will be led by Robert Bonnie, who will join the organization as director of the initiative, and Lesley Jantarasami, BPC Associate Director for Energy and Climate.
“The scale of the climate change challenge is so large, and the stakes are so high, that we must be able to draw on a large, diverse, and flexible toolset of policies and technologies to succeed,” said Sasha Mackler, director of BPC’s energy project. “We need secure ways to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to achieve net-zero emissions and US forests and agricultural lands can play a critical role.”
Natural carbon removal by farm and forest lands is emerging as a critical component of legislative efforts to address climate change, and BPC’s new synthesis report, Natural Carbon Solutions in U.S. Farms and Forests: Building a Policy Agenda for Congressional Action, examines this policy landscape.
“America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest owners are poised to play a vital role in responding to climate change but only if federal policy provides the incentives, market signals and support to encourage their active participation,” said Bonnie, the former USDA Under Secretary of Natural Resources and Environment, who is joining BPC to lead this effort. “This initiative seeks to work hand-in-hand with agriculture, forestry, landowner, environmental and other stakeholders to build a policy agenda that can attract broad bipartisan support.”
Federal action is needed to develop new sources of revenue for farmers, ranchers and forest owners who implement soil and forest carbon practices or other emissions reduction activities. In so doing, federal policy can drive investments in conservation practices that protect the climate, improve the productivity of agriculture and forestry, create economic opportunities in rural America, and provide other significant environmental co-benefits such as clean water and wildlife habitat.
“Many of the programs discussed in our synthesis report offer bipartisan opportunities to channel federal investment in ways that can support both short- and long-term job creation in rural industries suffering from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, while also providing soil and forest health and climate benefits,” said Jantarasami.
The initiative will also host a multi-part webinar series over the coming months to provide deeper dives into specific policy areas, highlighting new ways to incentivize farming, ranching, and forestry practices that deliver both climate and economic benefits.