Energy & Environment

Trump creates federal government council on global tree planting initiative

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U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump participate in a tree planting ceremony in recognition of Earth Day and Arbor Day on the South Lawn of the White House on April 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. 

President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order involving the federal government in a global tree planting initiative that already has private sector participation in the U.S.

The executive order creates a council that’s in charge of “developing, coordinating, and promoting Federal Government interactions with the Initiative with respect to tree growing, restoration, and conservation.”

The council will also create methods to track and measure the number of trees planted, conserved or restored and address any laws and regulations that get in the way of these actions. 

“On January 21, 2020, I announced that to further protect the environment, the United States would be joining the World Economic Forum’s One Trillion Trees initiative… an ambitious global effort to grow and conserve one trillion trees worldwide by 2030,” the executive order said. 

“Following through on my commitment, and given the expansive footprint of our Federal forests and woodlands, this order initiates the formation of the United States One Trillion Trees Interagency Council to further the Federal Government’s contribution to the global effort,” it continued. 

The order did not specify how many trees the federal government would seek to grow or conserve. 

The Trump administration has touted its decision to join the World Economic Forum’s Trillion Trees Initiative, which plans to grow, restore and conserve that many trees across the globe, as an action it has taken to better the environment. 

However, it has also taken steps to reduce restrictions on the timber industry cutting down trees. 

It has proposed, for example, opening up a previously protected 9.37 million acre area of the Tongass National Forest to logging. That forest is a major carbon sink, meaning its trees soak up carbon from the atmosphere, lessening the impacts of climate change.

Scientists have said planting trees can help but that it isn’t a panacea and that the U.S. will also have to significantly reduce its emissions to mitigate climate change impacts. 

The new council will be chaired by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, Trump’s economic advisor Larry Kudlow and and Deputy Chief of Staff Christopher Liddell. 

Other council members are  presidential advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, and several cabinet members including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Education Secretary Betsy Devos. 

A total of 26 companies, cities and nonprofit organizations announced in August that they too would participate in the program, with the goal of planting or conserving 855 million trees by 2030.

The cities of Detroit and Dallas and companies Mastercard, Microsoft and Bank of America, are among those that are participating. 

President Trump announced in January that the U.S. would participate in the initiative, saying at the time that the country “will continue to show strong leadership in restoring, growing and better managing our trees and our forests.”

Tags Andrew Wheeler Betsy DeVos Christopher Liddell Donald Trump Executive Order Ivanka Trump Jared Kushner Larry Kudlow Mark Esper Mike Pompeo Sonny Perdue Steven Mnuchin Trees

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