Hoyer Announces AMAZON21 Legislation, Delivering President Biden’s COP26 Pledge of $9 Billion to Combat Deforestation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Steny Hoyer (MD-05) introduced major legislation to combat deforestation and reduce carbon emissions around the globe as part of House Democrats’ broader efforts to address the climate crisis. H.R 5830, the America Mitigating and Achieving Zero-emissions Originating from Nature for the 21st Century Act – or “AMAZON21” – would authorize a trust fund of $9 billion for the State Department to enter long-term bilateral agreements with developing countries to assist them in ending deforestation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

“Addressing the critical challenge of deforestation is an issue I have cared deeply about for many years,” Congressman Hoyer said.“This is an issue that demands urgent action and long-term commitment as part of the broader global effort to confront the climate crisis.  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.  In addition to the Build Back Better Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, AMAZON21 is a central component of House Democrats’ agenda to address climate change.  The anticipated impact of AMAZON21 reflects the seriousness with which we approach this issue: this bill will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of taking every passenger car off the road in the U.S. for as many as two years.  I look forward to advancing this legislation and meeting our nation’s responsibility to lead the world in protecting our planet and the health and safety of those most vulnerable to the climate crisis.” 

In order to meet the goals set by the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, the United States and other nations have committed to providing financial and technical assistance to developing countries in order to reduce emissions within their borders.  AMAZON21 will invest in programs to help developing countries lower greenhouse gas emissions and meet their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by reducing deforestation and preserving key natural carbon sinks, including mangroves, grasslands, and wetlands, which can absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide.  Protecting these natural carbon sinks helps mitigate a leading cause of the climate crisis and leads to cleaner air, cleaner water, and greater biodiversity.  Moreover, they help safeguard indigenous populations living in environmentally vulnerable regions. 

AMAZON21 would establish 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 that absorb carbon dioxide.  The bill creates a trust fund to support this program, authorized at $9 billion with opportunities for private companies, non-profits, and multi-lateral entities to contribute to the fund in order to leverage federal dollars further.  Through a technical assistance program at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), AMAZON21 will help developing countries participate in carbon markets, which is another tool that developing countries can use to finance forest-conservation, terrestrial, and ecosystem projects to protect their globally significant forests and natural carbon sinks.  Embedded throughout both programs is the importance of monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) to ensure the environmental integrity of the projects as well as important program design elements aimed at protecting the interests of women, indigenous peoples, and other local stakeholders. 

Using satellite imagery and other oversight tools, the United States will be able to monitor the impact of these investments and determine the ongoing eligibility of developing countries to receive aid.  If fully funded, the programs contained in this legislation could avoid up to 180 million metric tons of carbon emissions every year – equivalent to the annual emissions of the entire state of Indiana.  By increasing the capacity of developing countries to preserve their carbon sinks, AMAZON21 would provide necessary support to our global allies in the fight against climate change.  The passage of this legislation would represent a key step toward reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, a critical benchmark set by the 2015 Paris Accords. 

“We applaud Majority Leader Hoyer’s ambitious proposal, which would not only promote climate stability, but also support Indigenous peoples and local communities," said CEO of Conservation International Dr. M. Sanjayan. "Verifiable results-based payments are an excellent way to provide critical financing to developing countries engaged in nature-based conservation. Moreover, high-quality forest carbon programs, like those financed by this bill, are a proven free-market approach to keep forests standing, while also stimulating rural economies. As world leaders look to close the massive climate funding gap, we hope to see more countries take the same approach.”  

Click here to read the full text of AMAZON21 legislation, and a fact sheet with more information can be found here.

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