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December 10, 2020

To Combat Climate Change, King Proposes Trillion Trees Initiative

Senator, colleagues introduce bipartisan Trillion Trees and Natural Carbon Storage Act to boost efforts to capture carbon, promote healthy forests

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), founding member of the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus and Ranking Member of the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, cosponsored bipartisan legislation to support U.S. leadership in reducing carbon in the atmosphere by restoring and conserving forests, grasslands, wetlands, and coastal habitats. Senators Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.) are also original cosponsors of the bill.

“We just lived through the hottest November on record; every year that carbon levels increase, temperatures increase and it gets harder to stabilize our planet’s climate future,” said Senator King. “Without action, climate change’s effects on our planet will grow more and more dangerous, fueling extreme weather events and endangering lives across the globe. Today’s bipartisan proposal recognizes the immense value of our working forests in this climate fight, and is a commonsense step in the right direction, calling for our nation to lead in efforts to preserve ecosystems that remove carbon from the atmosphere. We can’t delay any longer; we need to start working now, on a bipartisan basis, to address this crisis and protect our environment for future generations.”

“With forests covering 89 percent of our state, Mainers understand deeply the important role trees play in fighting climate change,” said Kate Dempsey, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Maine. “Expanding natural climate solutions is a key focus of our work on the Maine Climate Council, and we know that globally nature can provide almost a third of the solution to climate change needed by 2030. The Trillion Trees and Natural Carbon Storage Act affirms the critical role the United States must play in worldwide efforts to tackle climate change. We commend Senator King for this important bipartisan effort.”

In advance of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration from 2021 to 2030, the World Economic Forum launched the global One Trillion Trees initiative, The Trillion Trees and Natural Carbon Storage Act would allow the United States to take a leadership role in supporting this effort to store carbon, promote biodiversity, and end deforestation at home and abroad.

The Trillion Trees and Natural Carbon Storage Act

·       Creates the International Forest Foundation, a nonprofit organization, to encourage and accept donations in support of international reforestation, restoration, and deforestation prevention efforts. 

·       Authorizes $10 million for USDA Forest Nursery Revival programs to ensure that the supply of seeds and saplings allows for increased domestic planting.

·       Engages America’s allies in conservation by authorizing the Secretary of State and USAID to increase their forest management cooperation efforts with other nations in order to better promote reforestation and sustainable land use management abroad.

·       Amends existing international conservation programs to explicitly include carbon sequestration and forest management among the list of approved technical assistance categories.

·       Makes it easier for private landowners to participate in carbon credit markets by authorizing USDA to provide loan guarantees for related projects.

·       Requires that USDA establish objectives for increasing the net carbon stock of American forests, grasslands, wetlands, and coastal blue carbon habitats.

This legislation is supported by The Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, World Wildlife Fund, National Audubon Society, Bipartisan Policy Center, American Forest Foundation, American Conservation Coalition, National Association of State Foresters, Conservation International, and Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.

Senator King is among the Senate’s loudest voices advocating for action on climate change and conservation. He was recently awarded the inaugural National Park Foundation (NPF) “Hero” Award. Senator King has been lauded for his leadership in passing the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) into law. The GAOA includes the Restore Our Parks Act – a bill led by Senator King – and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Permanent Funding Act. The legislative package is among the most impactful conservation laws enacted in the last century and continues Senator King’s career-long focus on conservation efforts, dating back to his work prior to running for elected office through his years as Governor and his service in the Senate.  

The bill text is available here, and a summary of the bill is here.

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