WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Climate Alliance today released a new resource — Natural and Working Lands and Climate Action: A State Guide to Enhance the Sector’s Contribution to State and National Climate Goals — to help states further reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and maximize carbon sequestration and storage from natural and working lands (NWLs), which include forests and woodlands, grasslands and shrublands, croplands and rangelands, wetlands and urban green spaces.
“This comprehensive guide will help Alliance states learn from one another, overcome barriers and challenges, and take natural and working lands legislation, policies, and programs to the next level,” said Alliance Managing Director Taryn Finnessey.
NWLs play a key role in the global carbon cycle, contributing both to GHG emissions, as well as GHG reductions and removals. NWLs are unique because they store carbon and protect and enhance the well-being of communities, economies, and ecosystems. NWLs sequester approximately 714 million metric tons (MMT) a year, equivalent to approximately 12% of annual U.S. GHG emissions, and are one of the most cost-effective and enduring solutions to the climate crisis. However, NWLs are not a guaranteed carbon sink. Land use change, wildfires, insect infestations, and extreme weather are among the many factors that degrade and threaten NWLs.
To capture the full potential of the NWL sector, the guide highlights how states can set strategic near- and long-term goals to reduce GHG emissions from NWLs and to maximize the carbon sequestration and storage potential of the sector. This resource also offers sector-specific guidance on how to integrate NWLs into state climate goals to enhance the role of the sector in both mitigating and adapting to climate change, while centering equity, environmental justice, and a just economic transition in their efforts.
Notably, the guide features dozens of case studies highlighting the most effective and impactful NWL policies, practices, and programs across Alliance states. The resource also identifies federal opportunities to enhance the contribution of NWLs to state and national climate goals.
This guide is part of a series of resources and tools released by the Alliance to support state-led climate action across sectors and policy areas, including: The Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases: A Guide for State Officials; The Just and Equitable Transition State Policy Framework and its accompanying Resource Guide; The Governors’ Climate Resilience Playbook; and Building Decarbonization Roadmap; among others. It was produced in collaboration with a number of key partner organizations with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the J.M. Kaplan Fund.
The guide can be read in full here.
Launched on June 1, 2017 by the governors of Washington, New York, and California to help fill the void left by the previous administration’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, the Alliance has grown to include governors from across the U.S. Governors in the Alliance have pledged to collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025, at least 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030, and collectively achieve overall net-zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as practicable, and no later than 2050.
Alliance states and territories are achieving lower levels of air pollution, delivering more energy savings to homes and businesses, preparing more effectively for climate impacts, generating more electricity from zero-carbon sources, and collectively employing over 40% more workers in the clean energy sector than the rest of the country. For more information on Alliance members’ bipartisan, cross-sector climate action, see our Fact Sheet.