April 12, 2021
In response to the introduction today of the Climate Stewardship Act in the United States Congress, American Forests President and Chief Executive Officer Jad Daley issued the following statement:
“We are running out of time to slow climate change and prepare our communities for the climate change-induced heat waves, expansive wildfires, droughts and floods that already are happening. America’s trees and forests can help by delivering more than a quarter of the needed carbon dioxide reductions to slow climate change while also equitably protecting people from its impacts.
“The Climate Stewardship Act is among the most ambitious bills yet to capture this natural climate solution, supporting such vital actions as planting billions of trees by 2030. This includes what would be an unprecedented federal investment to support urban tree planting so we can create Tree Equity. Echoing the spirit of the New Deal, this legislation would turn environmental restoration into economic recovery, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in tree planting and tree nurseries alone.
“This opportunity is just waiting for us to take action. A new Reforestation Hub from American Forests and The Nature Conservancy shows the potential to plant and grow trees across 133 million acres of land in the Lower 48 states, and scientists say this is America’s single largest opportunity to increase natural carbon capture. The billions of trees to be planted and grown under the Climate Stewardship Act would help capture this opportunity by naturally sequestering and storing almost 620 million tons of carbon dioxide for each billion trees planted. That is equal to the emissions from almost 135 million cars driven for one year. To make sure these trees do more than just capture carbon, the legislation prioritizes planting in areas that provide drinking water and critical wildlife habitat corridors.
“It also devotes 100 million of the trees to be planted in urban areas, dramatically exceeding prior federal investment, with a focus on Tree Equity for the socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods that are systematically lacking in trees all across America. That is a life-or-death matter today, because climate change is dramatically increasing heat-related illness and loss of life in these communities. The bill’s investment in Tree Equity over the next decade is projected to save more than 200 lives and avoid 50,000 incidences of heat and respiratory illness, while generating more than $2.5 billion in health care and energy savings.
“The Climate Stewardship Act would also provide a job creation engine to boost our economic recovery from the impacts of COVID-19. Each million dollars invested in planting trees and other natural resource restoration through the Climate Stewardship Act could support as many as 39.7 jobs. The bill is projected to create and support hundreds of thousands of jobs in tree planting and tree nurseries alone, benefitting rural and urban areas alike.
“America needs to invest in climate solutions that can address many challenges and opportunities at once. Natural climate solutions, such as planting trees, meet this need. American Forests encourages swift bipartisan action to advance the Climate Stewardship Act so we can build back better together.”