Natural and Working Lands

An Initiative of the U.S. Climate Alliance

 

Background

Only by utilizing the power of natural and working lands to sequester carbon can we achieve the goal of negative emissions needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. [1]  Working in tandem with initiatives to reduce sources of greenhouse gas pollution, efforts to conserve, manage, and restore land can offer comprehensive benefits to ecosystems and the people that depend on them.  As the impacts of climate change continue to intensify, the carbon stocks stored in natural and working lands need to be safeguarded and enhanced.
 

Taking Action to Meet Key Goals

The United States Climate Alliance has identified enhancing carbon sequestration on natural and working lands as a key near-term opportunity for achieving its climate goals. Alliance states are already pursuing opportunities to increase carbon storage in forests, farms, and ecosystems, but are committed to coordinating and scaling their efforts for this critical purpose.

The Natural and Working Lands initiative of the United States Climate Alliance will identify best practices for land conservation, management and restoration to develop a carbon storage policy framework for implementation.  Together, the Alliance states can build on their successes by charting an ambitious path forward for forests, farmland, ranchland, grasslands, wetlands, and urban land to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change. 
 

Building Innovative Partnerships for Strong Action

By leveraging the breadth and depth of technical expertise to support comprehensive action on natural and working lands for climate goals, states will be able to take coordinated and meaningful steps as part of the Climate Alliance’s commitments.  Through the support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF), states will work with leading non-governmental organization (NGO) partners American Forests (AF), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), World Resources Institute (WRI), American Farmland Trust (AFT), the Coalition on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (C-AGG), and Trust for Public Land (TPL) to pursue shared goals.  Together, this partnership will slow climate change by developing policies to:

  • increase the volume of carbon stored in ecosystems;
  • reduce losses of already-stored carbon; and
  • decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Assessing Opportunity to Understand the Potential of Natural Climate                Solutions

The first product of the innovative partnership with leading NGOs will be a series of Opportunity Assessments to support natural and working lands climate mitigation in Alliance states. The Opportunity Assessments will identify the carbon sequestration and emissions reduction potential of land and coastal conservation, restoration, and management practices for land types including:

  • forests;
  • croplands;
  • rangelands;
  • wetlands;
  • grasslands; and
  • urban greenspace.

The Opportunity Assessments will also include economic assessments of implementation potential that can inform state priorities, providing a crosswalk to facilitate implementation.
 

Leveraging Opportunity into Action through a National Learning Lab

On July 9th through 11th, American Forests will host a Learning Lab in Washington, D.C. staffed by more than 50 leading experts in the field of land-based carbon mitigation from government, academia, nonprofits, landowners and industry.  Alliance states will be able to build on their Opportunity Assessments to create detailed, state-specific strategies that activate the best opportunities for carbon sequestration on natural and working lands.

The Learning Lab will be driven by hands-on workshops designed to provide a more refined picture of in-state natural and working lands carbon sequestration and emission reduction opportunities and how to capture them through policy and financial measures.  The Learning Lab and follow-up assistance will help states integrate the best available science and solutions into their climate action agendas.

 

Building on a Common Foundation to Spur Priority Actions

Following the Opportunity Assessment and Learning Lab activities, states will be well-positioned to develop a compendium of best practices that are comprehensive and easily shared among state governments. The United States Climate Alliance Natural and Working Lands initiative can collaborate even more deeply based on shared information and a common understanding of the priority opportunities for use land conservation, management, and restoration to meet their climate goals.

 

[1] UNEP. “Bridging the Gap – Carbon dioxide removal”. Emissions Gap Report 2017. United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi.  Available online: https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/emissions-gap-report ; Hansen, James et. al. “Young people’s burden: requirement of negative CO2 emissions”. Earth System Dynamics, 8, 577-616. July 2017. Available online: https://www.earth-syst-dynam.net/8/577/2017/esd-8-577-2017.html