In February 2020, Republican Representative Bruce Westerman introduced a bill titled The Trillion Trees Act, which would challenge the United States to help plant one trillion trees all over the world by the year 2050. This legislation stemmed from The Trillion Trees Initiative, which was introduced at the World Economic Forum in January of this year.
This bill is predicated on the concept of carbon sequestration to combat climate change. Carbon sequestration, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide–the most commonly produced greenhouse gas. One way carbon is sequestered naturally in our environment is through photosynthesis, where trees and other plant life take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and turn it into energy. Both the Trillion Trees Initiative and the Trillion Trees Act take this logic a step further: the more trees we plant across the world, the more carbon sequestration will occur, thus reducing climate change.
Supporters of the Trillion Trees Act applaud the bill for prioritizing reforestation on public lands while also planning to enhance the management of existing forests. On the other hand, many environmental and climate change groups are opposed to the legislation, claiming that this bill would only bolster revenue for the logging industry, and that the bill’s sponsors are ignoring the real culprit of climate change: fossil fuels. Opponents also say that any seedlings planted before 2050 would not begin to benefit our climate until decades later, and this bill is acting as a “band-aid” to a much deeper wound to our environment.
While the Trillion Trees Act does not offer a solution to every problem in the climate crisis, it could be a step in the right direction in which future generations–and wildlife–will be able to enjoy cleaner air and fuller forests all over the world. Although this bill does not address the world’s use of fossil fuel pollution, could the Trillion Trees Act coexist with other legislation regulating fossil fuel emissions?
Take Action: This bill is in its beginning stages in the House and is being reviewed in committees before being sent to the House floor for a vote. Contact your representatives about the Trillion Trees Act today!