WASHINGTON (April 20, 2021) – “Climate change is an all-hands-on-deck crisis, and our working lands are critical to warding off the worst effects of a warming planet,” said Sarah Greenberger, senior vice president for conservation policy at the National Audubon Society. “This bill will help provide a better future for both people and wildlife by opening up opportunities for farmers, foresters, and ranchers to reduce emissions and increase revenues, while also improving the places that birds need to survive.”
The 2021 version of the Growing Climate Solutions Act (GCSA) was reintroduced in the Senate today as a follow-up to a bill from last summer. The GCSA creates a program to certify technical assistance providers and third-party verifiers for the agriculture and forestry sectors for actions that reduce the amount of air and carbon pollution and for processes to naturally store carbon emissions. The legislation addresses barriers to entry for landowners trying to access carbon markets, and encourages practices guided by science, while also refining protocols that account for additionality, permanence, and leakage of practices. The updated bill also seeks to reduce barriers to entry for historically underserved, socially disadvantaged, and limited resource farmers, ranchers, and foresters.
A 2019 Audubon report found that unless the rate of global temperature rise is slowed significantly, two-thirds of North America’s birds are vulnerable to extinction, and the threats posed to the places that they need to survive have dangerous implications for people as well.
“While the fight against climate change will require the broad participation of all sectors, agricultural stewards are a critical part of the solution,” said Greenberger. “The people who know the land best are the people that work it every day, and this bill presents sensible and bipartisan solutions to ensure a cleaner environment for us all.”
The bill directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish a set of nationwide protocols and standards that will help farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners adopt sustainable management practices like planting cover crops, prescribed grazing, and reforestation. In addition to improving the health of working lands, these practices serve as natural solutions to reducing greenhouse gas pollution and increasing the amount of carbon stored in the soil. New protocols will improve the reliability and accessibility of voluntary carbon markets, but more action is needed to completely eliminate carbon pollution and address the impact on communities that have historically shouldered the burden.
Audubon has previously supported state-level efforts to use natural climate solutions to reduce emissions in Texas and South Carolina and helped secure the passage of legislation in Washington state to use farms and fields to capture carbon. Healthy fields and forests are natural solutions to climate change, while providing vital bird habitat that also benefits rural communities. Audubon’s Conservation Ranching Initiative offers certification for beef products that are raised on sustainable grasslands.
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.
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