Accelerating the Low Carbon Transition: The Case For Stronger, More Targeted And Coordinated International Action

Accelerating the Low Carbon Transition: The Case For Stronger, More Targeted And Coordinated International Action. Brookings Institution. David G. Victor, Frank W. Geels, and Simon Sharpe.  December 9, 2019

The world is committed to acting on climate change. At least since the signing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992, the international community has been united in its commitment to preventing ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’. In the Paris agreement of 2015, almost all countries set out individual targets or actions they would take towards meeting this collective goal. Earlier this year, the UN Climate Action Summit highlighted many examples of governments, businesses and civil society groups leading the way to a low carbon economy. There is general consensus on the need for deep cuts in emissions as rapidly as is practical. However, it is equally clear that emissions are still rising, not falling, and economic change is not happening anywhere near quickly enough. Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 71 pages].

Public-Sector Measures to Conserve and Restore Forests: Overcoming Economic and Political Economy Barriers

Public-Sector Measures to Conserve and Restore Forests: Overcoming Economic and Political Economy Barriers. World Resources Institute. Rohini Chaturvedi et al. November 2019

This working paper is a contribution to the FOLU 2019 report, Growing Better: Ten Critical Transitions to Transform Food and Land Use. The paper answers four questions:

  • Why are forests critical to economic development and human well-being?
  • What public sector measures could conserve and restore forests?
  • Why haven’t these public measures sufficiently worked at scale yet?

How can one overcome the economic and political economy barriers to these measures? [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 84 pages].

National Forest System Management: Overview, Appropriations, and Issues for Congress

National Forest System Management: Overview, Appropriations, and Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service. Katie Hoover, Anne A. Riddle. Updated September 5, 2019 

The 193 million acres of the National Forest System (NFS) comprise 154 national forests, 20 national  grasslands, and several other federal land designations. Management of the NFS is one of the three principal responsibilities of the Forest Service (FS), an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Most NFS lands are concentrated in the western United States, although FS administers more federal land in the East than all other federal agencies combined. The Secretary of Agriculture has various authorities to acquire or dispose of NFS lands, although these are often constrained by geography or other factors. 

[PDF format, 28 pages].

Emergency Assistance for Agricultural Land Rehabilitation

Emergency Assistance for Agricultural Land Rehabilitation. Congressional Research Service. Megan Stubbs. Updated June 11, 2019

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers several permanently authorized programs to help producers recover from natural disasters. Most of these programs offer financial assistance to producers for a loss in the production of crops or livestock. In addition to the production assistance programs, USDA also has several permanent disaster assistance programs that help producers repair damaged crop and forest land following natural disasters. These programs offer financial and technical assistance to producers to repair, restore, and mitigate damage on private land. These emergency agricultural land assistance programs include the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP), the Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP), and the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program. In addition to these programs, USDA also has flexibility in administering other programs that allow for support and repair of damaged cropland in the event of an emergency.

[PDF format, 17 pages].

Farm Policy: USDA’s 2018 Trade Aid Package

Farm Policy: USDA’s 2018 Trade Aid Package. Congressional Research Service. Randy Schnepf et al. June 19, 2019

On early 2018, the Trump Administration—citing concerns over national security and unfair trade practices—imposed increased tariffs on certain imported products in general and on U.S. imports from China in particular. Several of the affected foreign trading partners (including China) responded to the U.S. tariffs with their own retaliatory tariffs targeting various U.S. products, especially agricultural commodities. 

On July 24, 2018, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would be taking several temporary actions to assist farmers in response to trade damage from what the Administration has characterized as “unjustified retaliation.” Specifically, the Secretary said that USDA would authorize up to $12 billion in financial assistance—referred to as a trade aid package—for certain agricultural commodities using Section 5 of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act (15 U.S.C. 714c). USDA intends for the trade aid package to provide short-term assistance in response to the ongoing trade disputes. However, the Secretary stated that there would not be further trade-related financial assistance beyond this $12 billion package. The aid package includes (1) a Market Facilitation Program (MFP) of direct payments (valued at up to $10 billion) to producers of soybeans, corn, cotton, sorghum, wheat, hogs, and dairy who are most affected by the trade retaliation (sweet cherries and almonds were added to this list in September); (2) a Food Purchase and Distribution Program to partially offset lost export sales of affected commodities ($1.2 billion); and (3) an Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) Program to expand foreign markets ($200 million). 

[PDF format, 21 pages].

Management of the Colorado River: Water Allocations, Drought, and the Federal Role

Management of the Colorado River: Water Allocations, Drought, and the Federal Role.  Congressional Research Service. Charles V. Stern, Pervaze A. Sheikh. Updated May 17, 2019

The Colorado River Basin covers more than 246,000 square miles in seven U.S. states (Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California) and Mexico. Pursuant to federal law, the Bureau of Reclamation (part of the Department of the Interior) manages much of the basin’s water supplies. Colorado River water is used primarily for agricultural irrigation and municipal and industrial (M&I) uses, but it also is important for power production, fish and wildlife, and recreational uses. 

In recent years, consumptive uses of Colorado River water have exceeded natural flows. This causes an imbalance in the basin’s available supplies and competing demands. A drought in the basin dating to 2000 has raised the prospect of water delivery curtailments and decreased hydropower production, among other things. In the future, observers expect that increasing demand for supplies, coupled with the effects of climate change, will further increase the strain on the basin’s limited water supplies.

[PDF format, 29 pages].

Agricultural Disaster Assistance

Agricultural Disaster Assistance. Congressional Research Service.  Megan Stubbs. Updated March 28, 2019

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several programs to help farmers recover financially from natural disasters, including drought and floods. All the programs have permanent authorization, and one requires a federal disaster designation (the emergency loan program). Most programs receive mandatory funding amounts that are “such sums as necessary” and are not subject to annual discretionary appropriations.

[PDF format, 17 pages].