Energy & Environment

Hoyer introduces $9B bill bolstering Biden’s deforestation vow at COP26

Rep. Steny Hoyer
Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Wednesday will introduce a bill that aims to bolster President Biden’s commitment at COP26 to end and reverse deforestation by allocating billions of dollars to the effort.

The bill, first reported by CNN, calls for creating a $9 billion trust fund at the State Department that would be used to roll out bilateral forest conservation efforts in tandem with developing nations across the globe, which is the same financial commitment Biden made at the COP26 conference on Tuesday.

Hoyer referred to the legislation — which is also meant to reduce carbon emissions globally — as the AMAZON21 Act, an acronym for “America Mitigating and Achieving Zero-emissions Originating from Nature for the 21st Century.”

The leaders of more than 100 countries entered into an agreement at the conference in Glasgow, Scotland, that aims to stop and reverse deforestation by the year 2030. The countries that reached a deal represent more than 85 percent of the forests in the world, including the U.S., Congo, Brazil, Indonesia, China and Russia.

The pledge includes $19 billion overall in public and private funds.

Biden, during brief remarks, said his administration would request Congress to allocate $9 billion for conserving forests through 2030. He also said he would work with the private sector and local communities that bear the brunt of deforestation’s effects.

Hoyer is now turning Biden’s vow into action, introducing legislation to create the trust fund.

“This is an issue that demands urgent action and long-term commitment as part of the broader global effort to confront the climate crisis,” Hoyer said in a statement.

“At COP26 yesterday, we saw world leaders from more than 100 nations commit to ending deforestation by 2030, and President Biden committed to investing $9 billion in the global fight against deforestation.  The Congress of the United States is ready to back up President Biden’s commitments with concrete action,” he added.

The bill, if passed and signed into law, would allocate U.S. funding to countries that are successful in preserving forests, grasslands and other carbon sinks on land. Money would only be handed out if developing countries or communities can prove that they previously entered into commitments for targets that can be confirmed independently.

“That’s going to require an agreement, the monitoring of whether they’re doing what they say they do,” the majority leader told CNN.

“If I rent your forest, I want to make sure you don’t cut your forest down,” he added, noting that monitoring can be carried out through satellite imaging or in-person visits.

A fact sheet for the legislation says lawmakers opted to use the trust fund model because appropriations in the U.S. are good for roughly five years, which is not enough time to maintain a bilateral agreement that includes funding with other countries.

Hoyer also said that while Biden and the legislation propose allocating $9 billion, the effort will likely take “significantly more than that.”

“If you have a $9 billion appropriation, that runs out soon, so this creates a trust fund at the State Department to compensate,” he told CNN.

He said the legislation will not be included in Biden’s social spending package that lawmakers are still negotiating, but it may be approved in tandem during the yearly appropriations process.

Updated at 5:30 p.m.

Tags Joe Biden Steny Hoyer

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