The Four Pillars of California Forest Carbon Offsets
Increasing carbon sequestration in California’s forestland
Forest carbon sequestration must be part of any effective climate change mitigation strategy
- In addition to cutting emissions, forest carbon sequestration will play a significant role in mitigating climate change. Forests remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and store it in biomass. Durable wood products and buildings safely and effectively store carbon out of the forest.
- Terrestrial ecosystems (including forests) have absorbed a large portion of human-caused CO2 emissions. Increasing forest carbon sequestration and sustainable wood utilization have been identified as essential by the United Nations to meet global climate targets.
Forest offsets provide co-benefits for Californians including rural jobs, water storage and habitat for fish and wildlife
- Healthy, sustainably managed forests store and filter water and provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife.
- Forest carbon offset projects provide sustainable rural jobs, technical natural resources positions, vocational pathways and add to rural tax bases. Projects positively engage rural communities, indigenous peoples and landowners on climate issues.
- These critical projects offer strategies and lessons about managing for sustainable forest health that can be used elsewhere on public, private and tribal forests to benefit all citizens.
“Sustainable forest management can maintain or enhance forest carbon stocks, and can maintain forest carbon sinks, including by transferring carbon to wood products… (high confidence).”
“Sustainable forest management aimed at providing timber, fibre, biomass, non-timber resources and other ecosystem functions and services, can lower GHG emissions and can contribute to adaptation. (high confidence).”
“Achieving the 1.5°C goal also requires massive forest restoration to remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”
“Reforestation and improving forest management together… could provide 18% of cost-effective mitigation through 2030.”
Forest carbon sequestration programs, including offsets, should complement decarbonization efforts designed to reduce direct emissions of greenhouse gases and other toxic air contaminants, especially in frontline communities.
- Over $3 billion dollars (57%) of total cap and trade funding has been invested in Frontline Communities (CARB 2020 Annual Report)
- Assembly Bill 617 (Garcia: 2017) was passed as a complement to the cap and trade program to track state-wide criteria air pollutants and toxic air contaminates, improve monitoring of those areas most impacted, assist local communities in developing plans to reduce those emissions, and provide seed grants from cap and trade funding to enable those plans.
- Over 50% of all forest offset credits have been issued to Native Tribes and Corporations.
The rules for establishing and maintaining sequestration projects are the most rigorous adopted by any regulatory agency in North America. The Coalition supports continued improvement of these science-based rules through periodic review by the California Air Resources Board
- The multi-year development of these protocols used the best available science, involved diverse stakeholders, allowed for broad public comment, and passed judicial review.
- Protocol requirements were developed collaboratively and have their basis in peer-reviewed literature and research.
- Participants commit to retaining the sequestered carbon and to third-party monitoring and reporting for more than a century, even if the land changes hands.
- The program recognizes inclusive Nation building efforts and self-determination of Federally recognized Native American and Alaska Native Corporations.