Historic climate legislation includes major investments in nature-based solutions

The Inflation Reduction Act, passed by Congress on August 12 and signed into law by President Joe Biden on August 16, includes an important recognition of the role nature can play in combating climate change. Coupled with continued emissions reductions from other sectors of the economy, the law provides incentives for the conservation, effective management, and restoration of diverse habitats across the country. In particular, the law includes funds that can be used for the protection and restoration of coastal wetlands and forests, among other actions, that harness nature’s ability to sequester carbon and store it in soil for long periods of time.

More broadly, the legislation provides substantial opportunities for the development and protection of America’s clean energy economy over the next 10 years. In fact, the nearly $370 billion package represents the largest investment in emissions reduction efforts in U.S. history. According to independent analysis, the legislation would reduce US carbon emissions by 40% from 2005 levels by 2030, bringing the US significantly closer to its stated goal of 50%-52% reduction in emissions by 2030. Significantly, the law anticipates. Reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by about 1 billion metric tons by 2030 compared to current policy.

The nature-based aspects of the law are in addition to significant investments in technological solutions for reducing emissions, such as expanding the use of renewable energy and promoting the use of electric vehicles. Harnessing the power of nature to combat climate change has been shown to support species and communities by improving their ability to adapt to impacts such as rising temperatures, extreme weather and sea level rise.

The measure includes nearly $5 billion in federal funding to protect existing carbon-rich forests, promote climate-smart and fire-resilient forest management, and restore and reforest large forests across the country. The effort includes $2.15 billion for hazardous fuels reduction on National Forest System lands at the wildland-urban interface and $2 billion for state and private forestry projects. In addition to substantial carbon sequestration capacity, forests provide many benefits for people and nature, such as supporting biodiversity, providing ecosystem services – natural water filtration and storage, among others – and sustaining local tourism and recreation-based economies.

The Pew Charitable Trusts has been advocating for years to strengthen conservation of coastal habitats that stretch across the U.S. and contain carbon-rich soils. In fact, saturated soils found in coastal wetland ecosystems can hold more carbon per acre than some terrestrial forests.

And along our nation’s coasts, the effects of climate change—including sea-level rise, erosion, and more frequent and stronger storms—are threatening important habitats that provide the best natural defenses against those threats. As such, the legislation includes $2.6 billion to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to conserve, restore, and protect coastal and marine habitats to help coastal communities cope with extreme weather and other climate-driven changes, such as increased flooding; Some of that money can be used for projects supporting coastal communities and others that depend on marine resources, and for marine fisheries and marine mammal stock assessment.

Beyond prioritizing habitat conservation, the law seeks to protect the species that call those places home. For example, it allocated $121.3 million to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for direct spending, grants and contracts for the National Wildlife Refuge System and state wildlife management areas — money that could be used to address invasive species threats and climate change. Flexibility of habitat and infrastructure. The package also includes $125 million for the development and implementation of recovery plans under the Endangered Species Act. Funds are also available for conservation and habitat restoration projects on lands administered by the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

Overall, this new law makes an unprecedented investment in the fight against climate change. It provides increased and sustainable momentum for reducing emissions, including those solutions offered by nature. Importantly, the legislation also recognizes the disproportionate impacts of climate change and other environmental perturbations on low-resource communities and includes $60 billion to begin addressing many of the deepest inequities.

This legislation will provide sustainable, equitable and sustainable solutions for people and nature, as well as re-establish the United States as a global leader in climate mitigation and adaptation strategies – a stature that should compel other governments around the world to take action. own effort.

Courtney Durham works on international conservation efforts at The Pew Charitable Trusts.

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