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. This year, a new Alaska Brief found that 79% of Alaska’s bird species are vulnerable to climate change across seasons, and the threats posed to the places that they need to survive have dangerous implications for people as well. Healthy fields and forests are natural solutions to climate change, while providing vital bird habitat that also benefits rural communities.
“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.
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.
Since 1977, Audubon Alaska's mission is to conserve the spectacular natural ecosystems of the state, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats, for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations. Audubon Alaska uses science to identify conservation priorities and support conservation actions and policies, with an emphasis on public lands and waters. Audubon Alaska is a state office of the National Audubon Society. Learn more at ak.audubon.org.
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