Trees Included in Climate Legislation

April 06, 2009

A full 20-25% of climate change is directly attributable to deforestation and forest degradation. This means that any real and comprehensive climate change legislation must include provisions to help stop deforestation if it is serious about reducing carbon emissions. With the Waxman-Markey Bill pacing the way the US appears to be poised to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 83% by 2050. To get there, the bill has provisions for clean energy and energy efficiency steps, but will it address deforestation and forest degradation? Forest Carbon Portal just released an analysis of the Waxman-Markey Bill entitled, “Strong Push for Reducing Deforestation in 1st Draft US Climate Bill.” This article is suggested reading for anyone looking for a detailed overview of the implications of the Bill for trees. To quote the article:

International forestry – and in particular reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) credits – may be issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and used as offsets in the US climate regime… the total quantity of offsets allowed each year cannot exceed 2 billion tons… The bill also includes a provision for the protection of vulnerable groups involved in deforestation offsets. The offset project should give due regard to the rights and interests of local communities, indigenous peoples and vulnerable social groups… In addition to the cap, there are supplemental pollution reductions with the aim of preserving tropical forests, building capacity to generate offset credits and facilitating international action on climate change. From 2012 through 2025 the EPA will set aside up to five percent of emission allowances to be used to provide incentives to reduce deforestation in developing countries.

On the whole, this climate bill seems to address the fact that trees play a major role in climate change and that any emissions reductions regimes need to address that fact. In the conclusion of the article, it mentions that the provisions included in the legislation will work to prevent the market from being ‘flooded’ with cheap offset credits (thus devaluing other offset options in comparison). Forest based carbon offsets fight climate change, protect wildlife habitats, and support local communities. By including trees in federal climate legislation, the US will be doing a service to the world that goes far beyond reducing emissions. Support forest based carbon offsets today; see our reforestation projects by clicking here.