(June 24, 2021) Thanks to strong bipartisan support, the Growing Climate Solutions Act passed the Senate today. The bill was reintroduced by Sen. Mike Braun (R) of Indiana and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) of Michigan and was cosponsored by more than 50 senators including Great Lakes members Sen. Todd Young (R) of Indiana, as well as Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).
“Climate change is an all-hands-on-deck situation. Our Senate leaders across the Great Lakes region have recognized the power that our hardworking agricultural and forestry sectors have to address the threat of climate change,” said Michelle Parker, Executive Director of Audubon Great Lakes. “With more than 80 percent of land devoted to farms, forests and woodlands in Indiana alone — this bill will give landowners the support they need to implement climate-friendly practices to stave off the worst effects of climate change for the benefit of birds and people.”
The Growing Climate Solutions Act establishes a program that will encourage and assist farmers and foresters in adopting 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.
Audubon’s climate report found that unless the rate of global temperature rise is slowed significantly bird species like the Yellow-throated Warbler face an uncertain future in Indiana, while two-thirds of North American bird species are vulnerable to extinction. Nature-based solutions like planting cover crops, prescribed grazing, and reforestation can provide up to 37 percent of the emission reductions needed to protect a majority of birds from the worst effects of climate change.
The legislation also seeks to remove barriers for landowners to access voluntary carbon markets, allowing them to contribute to the national effort to reduce carbon emissions while tapping into new revenue streams, which will help rural economies impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The bill directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to publish a list of the protocols for voluntary environmental markets, which have the potential to further support farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners in adopting sustainable management practices. These important steps will improve transparency of voluntary carbon markets, but significant action is needed to completely eliminate carbon pollution and ensure that all communities can enjoy clean and healthy air.
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. Additionally, 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.
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