Oregon Global Warming Commission Proposes New State Goals for Capturing Carbon

Oregon Global Warming Commission Proposes New State Goals for Carbon Sequestration

SALEM – In a newly-published proposal, the Oregon Global Warming Commission is calling for Oregon to invest in actions that will increase the carbon that is captured and stored in the state’s natural and working lands. The proposal was developed in response to Governor Brown’s climate change Executive Order 20-04, and calls for capturing and storing – or sequestering – an additional 5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) by 2030, and an additional 9.5 MMTCO2e per year by 2050.

The Natural and Working Lands Proposal highlights the important role that carbon sequestration can play as part of a comprehensive climate change mitigation strategy. Carbon sequestration refers to a process through which carbon dioxide (a harmful greenhouse gas) is removed from the atmosphere and stored in plants and soils through photosynthesis. The Commission’s proposal includes new climate goals for Oregon and describes the investments, programs, and policies needed to achieve them.

The proposal notes that with sufficient actions to meet Oregon’s sector-based emissions reduction goals and investments to increase sequestration in natural and working lands, the state could achieve carbon neutrality before 2040—establishing Oregon as a national leader in climate mitigation.

Without these goals and investments, the Commission sees a missed opportunity for Oregon to not only help prevent worsening climate change, but to also reap the significant social, environmental, and economic benefits associated with actions that increase carbon sequestration in our natural and working lands. For example:

  • Planting trees in urban areas reduces heat island effects and improves air quality.
  • Restoring coastal wetlands improves fish habitat and helps protect coastal communities from more frequent storm surges.
  • Implementing regenerative farming practices increases soil productivity and moisture-holding capacity.
  • Advancing climate-smart forest management practices increases the long-term supply of wood products.
  • Investing across these practices creates jobs, generates increased revenue for private land managers, reduces energy and health care costs, and improves people’s quality of life.

“While significant funding will be needed to achieve these bold goals,” said Oregon Global Warming Commission Chair Catherine Macdonald, “the financial savings gained from avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, combined with the value of the added goods and services associated with improved natural and working lands, will far exceed those costs.”

The Commission developed the Natural and Working Lands Proposal with input from more than 1,000 individuals and organizations representing Tribal Nations, landowners and managers, landowner associations, environmental justice leaders, federal and state agencies, scientists, conservation organizations, and technical assistance providers.

In receiving the proposal, Governor Brown noted that, “I am thankful for the work of the Global Warming Commission, demonstrating Oregon’s leadership on climate by identifying another set of tools in the climate mitigation toolbox to address emissions. Our forests, wetlands, and agricultural lands have a significant role to play in stabilizing the climate. I look forward to working with the Legislature and state agencies to develop approaches for making these carbon sequestration goals a reality.”

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