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Senators Menendez, Braun Introduce Legislation to Promote Conservation, Stewardship of World’s Most Critical Forest Resources

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today was joined by Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Co-Chair of the Climate Solutions Caucus, in introducing the America Mitigating and Achieving Zero-emissions Originating from Nature for the 21st Century Act (AMAZON21 Act), new legislation to combat global deforestation and help carbon emission reduction efforts around the world.

The bipartisan legislation, which authorizes $4.5 billion over four years for a new program to support carbon sequestration and mitigation projects in developing countries, also authorizes the State Department to enter long-term bilateral agreements to finance forest conservation projects, providing financial incentives for mitigating carbon releases. If enacted, it is estimated that projects initiated under AMAZON21 would help prevent up to 180 metric tons of carbon emissions annually. Today’s introduction follows companion legislation sponsored by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in the House of Representatives.

“I am incredibly proud to be joined by my colleagues in leading this bicameral, bipartisan effort to preserve our world’s forests, which are central to maintaining Earth’s health and climate,” Chairman Menendez said. “In providing economic incentives for developing countries to protect our planet’s resources, AMAZON21 continues to capitalize on the growing momentum to strengthen our nation’s global leadership in cutting carbon emissions and avoiding the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. I look forward to working with my colleagues to secure our legislation’s passage in the Senate and House of Representatives. We owe it to future generations to be responsible stewards of our only planet.”

“As the Co-Chair of the Climate Solutions Caucus, one issue that is clear to me is that the U.S. must do more to address the economic risks presented by Chinese exploitation and illegal deforestation,” said Senator Braun. “I am proud to lead this bipartisan and bicameral effort with Chairman Menendez and Majority Leader Hoyer which bolsters U.S. economic security and protects our environment to boot.”

“I thank Chairman Menendez and Sen. Braun for introducing a Senate version of my AMAZON21 Act.  It is essential that Congress take action to ensure that America remains a global leader in addressing the climate crisis by fighting deforestation,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. “The destruction of natural carbon sinks like rainforests, grasslands, peat, and mangroves is a leading contributor to the climate crisis, and our AMAZON21 legislation would enable the State Department to fund reforestation efforts where they are most needed and most effective around the world.  I hope the Senate and House can send President Biden our AMAZON21 legislation without delay.”

The America Mitigating and Achieving Zero-emissions Originating from Nature for the 21st Century Act (AMAZON21 Act) is supported by leading environmental groups and organizations focused on combating climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

"To stabilize Earth's climate and avert mass species loss, we must urgently halt the destruction of nature,” said Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International. “High-quality forest carbon programs, like those financed by this bill, are a proven approach to reduce deforestation, while also creating new jobs and growing rural economies. Moreover, results-based payments promote accountability at every level, reducing risk and unlocking additional private-sector dollars. As world leaders look to close the massive climate funding gap, we hope to see more countries take the same approach. We are grateful for the leadership shown by Chairman Menendez, Senator Braun, and House Majority Leader Hoyer."

"Conserving and restoring natural ecosystems is one of the cost-effective strategies to combat climate change. Establishing incentives for terrestrial carbon sequestration internationally will deliver significant climate mitigation benefits while also strengthening the economies of developing countries. The American Conservation Coalition Action thanks Senator Menendez and Senator Braun for their leadership on this important issue," added Quill Robinson, Vice President of the American Conservation Coalition. 

Among its provisions, the AMAZON21 Act:

  • Establishes the International Terrestrial Carbon Sequestration Program at the State Department, which will create and fund multi-year results-based payments (RBPs) agreements with developing countries to preserve their forests and other natural carbon sinks
  • Creates a trust fund to support the International Carbon Sequestration Program authorized at $4.5 billion over four years with opportunities for private companies, non-profits, and multi-lateral entities to contribute
  • Assists developing countries in participating in carbon markets to finance forest-conservation, terrestrial, and ecosystem projects and to protect globally significant forests and natural carbon sinks
  • Reaffirms the importance of monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) to ensure projects’ environmental integrity as well as important program design elements aimed at protecting women, indigenous peoples, and other local stakeholders’ interests

Find a copy of the legislation HERE.




Juan Pachon