It’s rare for a bipartisan climate bill to reach the Senate but that’s what happened today with the Growing Climate Solutions Act. Essentially, the bill aims to break down barriers for farmers to earn carbon credits, which can then be traded or sold to generate revenue.
In a lot of ways, the Growing Climate Solutions Act seems to be something that the agricultural industry needs right now. After all, the industry produced 6,677 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2018 alone.
New policies are also vital for incentivizing farmers to lower their ecological footprint — and that could be the Growing Climate Solution Act, which introduces bottom-up incentives for sustainable practices. Here’s what the Growing Climate Solution Act would entail.
Growing Climate Solutions Act to help farmers better understand the carbon credit market
While carbon credits aren’t a new concept by any means, there’s a fairly high barrier to entry for farmers, who often don’t have access to reliable information about markets and credit protocol verifiers. The bill refers to this knowledge gap as a “technical entry barriers,” which it hopes to address.
This issue has “limited both landowner participation and the adoption of practices that help reduce the costs of developing carbon credits,” according to a new government press release.
Providing farmers with assistance for carbon credit participation
Additional to providing farmers with more information about how to earn carbon credits, the Growing Climate Solutions Act would also implement an assistance program to more directly aid in carbon credit participation.
According to the press release, the Growing Climate Solutions Act “establishes a Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Certification Program through which USDA will be able to provide transparency, legitimacy, and
informal endorsement of third party verifiers and technical service providers that help private landowners generate carbon credits through a variety of agriculture and forestry related practices.”
“The USDA certification program will ensure that these assistance providers have agriculture and forestry expertise, which is lacking in the current marketplace. As part of the program, USDA will administer a new website, which will serve as a ‘one stop shop’ of information and resources for producers and foresters who are interested in participating in carbon markets.”
The act would also directly connect landowners with private sector players, who can help them monetize their climate-positive actions. And through its USDA certification program, the act would “lower the barrier to entry in credit markets by reducing confusion and improving information for farmers looking to implement practices
that capture carbon, reduce emissions, improve soil health, and make operations more sustainable,” the press release explains.
Helping farmers mitigate the impacts of climate change
The total future economic loss from climate change is difficult to predict, but there are some sectors that already suffering. For instance, in 2011, heatwaves caused over one billion dollars in damages to livestock. And in 2012, “premature budding due to a warm winter caused $220 million in losses of Michigan cherries,” according to the EPA.
Clearly, there’s a lot at stake — and everyone has a role to play. The way the Growing Climate Solutions Act is positioned seems like it would allow farmers a real incentive to do so through the carbon credit markets. The bill would also allow farmers who have seen drops in their sales from Covid-19 continue to sustain their businesses.
“[The Growing Climate Solutions Act] enables new revenue streams that pay farmers for adopting climate-friendly practices. Those changes will help drive the U.S. toward a 100% clean economy and help ensure farms and rural communities thrive in a changing climate.”Elizabeth Gore, Environmental Defense Fund
Lauren Beauban is an Editorial Fellow at theRising, where she covers sustainability news and influential people in the industry. She is also interested in environmental policy and how it affects people. You can pitch her stories at firstname.lastname@example.org