Public policy tools for promoting climate-smart forestry

Policy tools for promoting climate-smart forestry

Policy tools for promoting climate-smart forestry include carbon taxes, carbon trading, and carbon offsets. What are they?

Basically, it’s all about putting a price on carbon emissions, which economists say is one of the most important and effective steps society could take to limit them.

Carbon tax: A tax levied on the carbon content of fuels whose objective is to reduce GHG emissions by putting a price on them and requiring polluters to pay. Some of the revenue raised by such a tax could be invested in forest conservation and incentivizing private forestland owners to adopt climate-smart forestry.

Carbon trading /offsets / cap-and-trade: An alternative government policy to a carbon tax is a cap on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Emission levels of GHGs are capped and permits to pollute are allocated or auctioned to polluters. When they are sold, the resulting revenue can be wholly or partly funneled to offsets - projects that sequester carbon and can sell polluters “carbon credits.”

In California, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. mandated a reduction of California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Among other things, it created a cap-and-trade program that requires utilities, large industrial plants and fuel distributors to buy carbon credits from registered carbon projects. In the forest sector, these projects can garner credits through urban forestry, reforesting previously cleared lands, and through improved management techniques. Many of the registered forest carbon forest projects are FSC certified.

 While cap-and-trade has its critics, there is evidence that, in the forest sector at least, it may be working.