Decarbonization Dialogue Subgroup Submits Carbon Bank Recommendations to Department of Agriculture

Creating a carbon bank administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture could provide financial incentive for farmers, ranchers, and foresters to reduce atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping gases and potentially spur additional environmental benefits, according to recommendations submitted by the Carbon Bank Taskforce to the USDA. The Taskforce is comprised of experts with decades of experience in environmental markets and government programs.

“Farmers are ready and willing to take common sense, affordable actions to address climate change. Done right, a carbon bank at USDA could seed those initial efforts to create, launch, and maintain voluntary carbon markets,” said Bruce Knight, principal and founder of Strategic Conservation Solutions who participated in the Carbon Bank Taskforce dialogue.

The Taskforce submitted the recommendations in response to a USDA request seeking public input on the agency’s climate strategy following an executive order from President Joe Biden on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.

“Through the development of a carbon bank, USDA can further incentivize producers to decrease the impacts of climate change through reductions in emissions of methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide as well as sequester incremental carbon in soils and root systems. The carbon bank should accomplish two goals. First, it should stimulate the demand for producers to implement and be paid for land use and soil management outcomes that reduce atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping gases and provide additional environmental benefits that could be rewarded through other environmental markets. Second, the carbon bank should ensure the environmental integrity and effectiveness of the practices implemented,” wrote the Taskforce.

The Carbon Bank Taskforce is a subgroup of the Decarbonization Dialogue, facilitated by Keystone Policy Center and Great Plains Institute, which convened experts from different sectors to develop recommendations for near-term federal policies to drive economy-wide and equitable decarbonization. The Dialogue’s recommendations were publicly unveiled in February 2021. Since then, members of the Dialogue have convened smaller groups like the Carbon Bank Taskforce to focus on specific topics.

“The Keystone discussion process has provided an opportunity for a diverse group of stakeholders to develop recommendations on how an USDA carbon bank could be constructed, managed, and administered. With the creation of a carbon bank being a novel idea, the results of this Taskforce along with other stakeholder consultation can help refine the concept to best support emerging carbon markets for agriculture actions,” added Knight.

The cover letter and recommendations are available here.