The introduction of the Trillion Trees Act from Representative Bruce Westerman (R-AR) and nine additional Republican co-sponsors adds new energy from the GOP to the growing bipartisan movement to leverage America’s forests for slowing climate change. While forests alone cannot solve climate change, they can play a very important role alongside actions like reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector. Today U.S. forests and forest products annually capture and store nearly 15% of U.S. carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels. New research suggests we could nearly double natural carbon capture in our forests with the right actions. It is laudable that that the Trillion Trees Act shares the goal to increase carbon capture in our forests.
American Forests has been working with partners for more than two years to mobilize a Reforest America movement to plant, regenerate, and actively manage forests as a way to naturally remove carbon from the atmosphere. We are scaling U.S. ambition with a national goal to plant and regenerate billions of trees all across the country — from city streets to rural landscapes.
This legislation confirms growing bipartisan support for the Reforest America movement in Congress, particularly when viewed in combination with other legislation seeking to plant and regenerate forests for climate change benefits. These previously introduced bills include the Climate Stewardship Act (S. 2452 and H.R. 4269), the Reforestation Act of 2019 (S. 3106), and the TREES Act (H.R. 5615), among others. These various legislative proposals envision that our nation can come together in unprecedented ways behind forests as one important piece of the larger climate action puzzle.
American Forests has worked with public and private sector partners to plant more than 60 million trees in the last three decades alone, so we understand the opportunities and challenges ahead to scale reforestation here in America and globally toward the goal of 1 trillion trees. To be successful, we must use rigorous climate science to plan, plant and manage our forest ecosystems so that they can withstand the already serious impacts of climate change on forests. As policymakers work to address this complex issue, we will continue to provide science-based advice to ensure that any legislation is well designed to advance lasting climate action through forests while also delivering environmental and economic co-benefits like clean water supplies and wildlife habitat.
This growing consensus in Congress on mobilizing forests to help act on climate is bolstered by other support. President Donald J. Trump has committed the United States to join in the global Trillion Tree Initiative, and has indicated that the administration will provide different forms of support for tree planting and other needed forestry actions at home and abroad. This U.S. commitment is being integrated with the new global platform for the Trillion Tree Initiative, 1t.org. Collaborating with this global initiative will provide an opportunity for America to join with partners in other countries by sharing best practices, forging new global partnerships to finance reforestation, and integrating international reforestation accomplishments to track progress against the goal of 1 trillion trees.
American Forests looks forward to working with the leaders of the Trillion Tree Act, the leaders of other parallel legislative proposals, and the White House to find consensus on the appropriate federal role in advancing the 1 Trillion Trees Initiative. Healthy and resilient forests can provide one critical piece of the climate action puzzle, and federal leadership can help us deliver this natural climate solution if we craft thoughtful, science-based policies and make the necessary public and private investment.