The Trillion Trees and Natural Carbon Storage Act would boost U.S. and international efforts to capture carbon by promoting healthy forests and other lands 

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), co-chairs of the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, introduced legislation to support U.S. leadership in reducing carbon in the atmosphere by restoring and conserving forests, grasslands, wetlands, and coastal habitats. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Angus King (I-Maine) cosponsored the bill.

“As a lifelong conservationist, I believe that Trillion Trees is a common sense proposal to help improve our land, water, soil, and air, without imposing onerous Washington regulations,” said Senator Braun. “I am proud to come together with my colleagues on this bipartisan solution to help advance a key objective that President Trump called for in his State of the Union Address.”

“The wildfires and severe storms we’ve experienced this year are a devastating reminder of how climate change is impacting our lands – and a clear signal that we need to act now to protect them for future generations,” said Senator Coons. “Removing carbon from the atmosphere is one of the many critical steps we should take to mitigate climate risks. I’m glad to work with this bipartisan group of senators to invest in a solution that will benefit the health of people and ecosystems around the world.”

“I have long held the position that we can protect our environment without harming our economy, and this legislation is one example of the type of action we can take to reduce emissions and protect our natural resources while creating new economic opportunities,” said Senator Young.

“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.”

In advance of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration from 2021 to 2030, the World Economic Forum launched the global One Trillion Trees initiative, 1t.org. 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.

“Meeting the challenge of climate change demands a range of solutions. This bill signals the U.S. is ready to lead in marshaling a key part of the solution set — the substantial power of natural and working lands, especially forests, to increase carbon sequestration. We’re pleased to see this important first step.” – Lynn Scarlett, Chief External Affairs Officer, The Nature Conservancy

“Any serious proposal to act on climate must include natural solutions — healthy forests, grasslands, wetlands, and coastal ecosystems — that sequester carbon and bolster resilience through ecologically appropriate reforestation and restoration. We’re proud to work with our good friends Senators Chris Coons, Mike Braun, Todd Young, and Angus King on this forward-thinking, bipartisan effort to help address climate change by tapping natural ecosystems and their ability to store carbon and make communities safer.” – Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation

“Sens. Braun (R-IN) and Coons’ (D-DE) Trillion Trees and Natural Carbon Storage Act would provide important innovative policies that advance conservation and ecological restoration while bolstering rural economies. The bill establishes science-based objectives for increasing the net carbon stock across U.S. forests, grasslands, wetlands, and coastal ecosystems.  This legislation is a great bipartisan step in conserving and restoring our nation’s forest and will help expand our natural carbon markets.” – Michele Stockwell, Executive Director, BPC Action

“Natural solutions are a crucial part of effective climate policy. The Trillion Trees and Natural Carbon Storage Act will expand the carbon sequestration capacity of America’s forests and grow the use of embodied carbon building materials. The American Conservation Coalition thanks Senators Braun, Coons, Young, and King for their strong leadership on this important bill.” – Quill Robinson, Vice President of Government Affairs, American Conservation Coalition

 “The American Forest Foundation applauds Senator Braun and Senator Coons for legislative efforts to unlock the carbon potential on private forestland.  Family forest holdings make up 36% of all U.S forests. Providing resources to enable family forest landowners to enter carbon markets will allow them to both improve their forests and sequester carbon at scale.” – Tom Martin, President and CEO of the American Forest Foundation

“While our forests provide a habitat for the birds we love, they do so much more for the survival of our planet. Trees, as well as other existing natural resources, provide some of the first lines of defense against pollution that contributes to climate change. By investing in our forests, we’re also investing in our future.” – Michael Obeiter, senior director of federal climate strategy at the National Audubon Society

“It’s critical for the U.S. to take a global leadership role in promoting sound land-use management and to encourage other donor nations to follow. Trillion Trees provides the basis for a foundational structure for extraordinary progress in the developing world in terms of trees for water, people, agriculture, industry, biodiversity, and demonstrable carbon offsets – all of which will improve lives and livelihoods around the world.” – David H. Barron, Chairman, The ICCF Group

“We thank Senator Braun for his leadership, together with Senators Coons, Young, and King in recognizing the role of forests and forest products as a natural climate solution. As a private forest owner himself, Senator Braun’s first-hand experience and leadership is vital to ensuring that policy supports healthy markets, working forests and forests products – as three vital and interconnected parts to climate mitigation, forest health and resilience.  We look forward to working with the Senators to advance this important objective.” – Dave Tenny, President & CEO of the National Alliance of Forest Owners

“On the heels of a record-breaking fire season at home and abroad—and due to unrelenting deforestation around the world—the plight of our forests has never been more dire. Conserving and restoring natural habitats such as forests, grasslands, and wetlands are critical to addressing the intertwined crises of climate change and nature loss and to ensuring forest-dependent communities and Indigenous peoples thrive. The Trillion Trees and Natural Carbon Storage Act provides a path for us to come together in a bipartisan manner to tackle these challenges. As the enormity of the climate crisis grows each day, it is imperative that we take a holistic view in our response and that the United States displays leadership on cutting carbon emissions at every level. Safeguarding our valuable lands and forests is an important part of the solution. As a new administration and Congress gear up to tackle a variety of environmental issues, acting on climate and protecting forests and nature are obvious priorities and opportunities.” – Kerry Cesareo, Senior Vice President, Forests, World Wildlife Fund

“Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) applauds the bipartisan efforts of Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Todd Young (R-IN) and Angus King (I-ME) for introducing the Trillion Trees and Natural Carbon Solutions Act, legislation that supports sound forest management practices to reduce carbon in our atmosphere for generations to come. Reforestation and conservation are central to a clean environment and economic growth. So, too, are incentives that help landowners practice sustainable forestry and reduce and sequester carbon emissions. By encouraging international cooperation to conserve our global resources, the Trillion Trees and Natural Carbon Solutions Act asserts U.S. leadership in the fight to improve air quality and protect our forests and coastal habitats worldwide. CRES commends Sens. Braun, Coons and Young for championing this legislation in the Senate and for their work to bring forth commonsense solutions that will encourage a cleaner future for our nation and the world.” – CRES Executive Director Heather Reams

“The National Association of State Foresters (NASF) applauds the efforts of Senators Mike Braun, Chris Coons, Todd Young, and Angus King on the introduction of the Trillion Trees And Natural Carbon Storage Act. This bill recognizes forests and forest carbon markets for what they are: sustainable solutions to climate change. Trees built America. They clean our water and air. They provide us with spaces to recreate and homes for millions of wildlife species to thrive. They also have the capacity to sequester tremendous volumes of carbon. Most (nearly two-thirds) of America’s forests are privately owned. These private landowners need economic incentives to retain ownership of their forestland, as well as professional expertise to effectively manage their forests. This bill would create a federal loan guarantee program, providing the requisite access to established environmental marketplaces where forestland owners can sell the carbon credits they produce. As public land managers and the primary deliverers of assistance to private forestland owners, state forestry agencies need every tool available to actively manage public forests and address boundary-less forest threats like wildfire, pests, and disease. Forest carbon markets are one of these essential tools and should be included in any and all climate change solutions proposed by Congress. NASF looks forward to continuing its work with Senator Braun and other congressional leaders to develop bipartisan climate change solutions that enhance public benefits from all forests.” – NASF President and Arkansas State Forester Joe Fox

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.

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