Project Report:
US Forest Carbon Pricing Initiative
- Investigates the causes of economic imbalances.
- Investigates causes tending to destroy or impair the free-market system.
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.


CSE will continue work to transform industrial forest practices to climate smart alternatives through market-based solutions. Our work will emphasize the Pacific Northwest and Southeast regions and bolster the campaigns of climate coalitions and forest protection advocacy organizations. Specific activities will include: (1) publishing high quality information about the impacts of industrial forestry on carbon emissions and climate resiliency; (2) designing and advocating for market based solutions such as redirecting subsidies, cap and invest or forest carbon tax and reward to put a price on forest carbon and the externalities associated with industrial forestry emissions; (3) building strong partnerships with conservation and climate communities in each region to help advance these solutions and call public attention to the urgency of this issue, and (4) making the case for transformation of industrial forest practices to decision makers charged with developing climate solutions.

CSE's report on logging and wood products emissions in North Carolina made headlines statewide


With generous support from the Alex C. Walker Foundation in 2019 CSE accelerated its nationwide efforts to ensure that the climate impacts of industrial forest practices – both emissions and loss of resiliency – are addressed by market-based mechanisms and folded into existing and planned climate action programs at the federal and state levels. Three major accomplishments dominated our work for last year.

The first was a collaboration with Dogwood Alliance to document the carbon emissions attributable to the logging and wood products sector in North Carolina. North Carolina was chosen because of Dogwood’s persistent efforts over the past decade to call attention to the harmful impacts of timber plantations and biomass production on biological diversity and a host of ecosystem services such as regulation of floods and pollination. Using a methodology developed in Oregon, CSE completed an analysis of logging and wood products emissions over the past fifteen years and documented that this sector is likely the third largest source of greenhouse gas pollution at over 44 million metric tons CO2 equivalent (CO2-e) per year.

As in other states, logging and wood products emissions are not presently included in official greenhouse gas inventories - an oddity, since those inventories now include agriculture. The momentum to correct this flaw in GHG accounting at the international, national and state levels is gaining traction but until that happens the public must rely on estimates produced by researchers at NGOs or universities. Findings were released in a graphically designed report that went to decision makers statewide and throughout the southeastern US and was covered well in North Carolina media. Part two of the report is now underway. Part two will address threats to climate resiliency, such as loss of clean water flow and an increase in wildfire risk, as well as a detailed suite of policy interventions Governor Cooper and the state legislature can implement to scale up climate smart alternatives to conventional logging.

The second was formation and activation of the Forest Carbon Coalition (FCC). The Forest Carbon Coalition is a network of scientific, conservation, and environmental justice allies working together to protect US forests from harmful logging practices that are driving climate change and restore one of the world’s most vital carbon sinks to its natural capacity. CSE co manages the coalition with Ernie Niemi at Natural Resource Economics and is represented in DC by Susan Leopold, who directs one of FCC’s member organizations. The FCC has 32 members and it is growing fast. The goal is to weigh in on forest carbon issues in Congress and at the state level with facts about the vast economic benefits of letting trees grow bigger and taller to capture and store carbon and reduce vulnerability to climate change and to propose and advocate for market based solutions like redirecting subsidies, taxing carbon emissions from logging and including forests in emerging cap and trade programs.

The third was engagement with the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. In September, the Select Committee put out a broad call for climate crisis solutions to guide their recommendations due out in the spring of 2020. CSE, acting on behalf of the Forest Carbon Coalition and forty-five other conservation organizations, prepared and submitted detailed policy recommendations that included the full suite of market-based solutions we have been advancing thus far at the state level. CSE is part of a growing DC network of like-minded organizations pursuing similar goals and is regularly engaged in visits to Capitol Hill to make our case to congressional leaders.


Climate change has been referred to as the most spectacular market failure ever. The market’s failure to incorporate the costs of climate change into prices of wood and paper products supports a tremendous level of over-production, over-consumption, and wasteful uses of these commodities.

Putting a price on high-emissions logging operations is a critical market-based solution for internalizing the catastrophic costs associated with climate change and making wood product markets more efficient.

CSE has pioneered several market-based solutions including forest carbon tax and reward, subsidy reform, cap and invest and climate resiliency plans for large owners. In 2020 and beyond, we will work with public officials and partners in Oregon, Washington, North Carolina, Georgia and other states to advocate for these interventions within ongoing decision-making processes and campaigns.


The US is the world's largest producer and consumer of wood products. As such, our eventual goal is transformation of industrial forest practices to climate smart alternatives nationwide. However, because most industrial forest practices take place on lands managed under state laws, our campaign must necessarily focus on particular states, one at a time. In 2019 and 2020, we have developed the project with a strategic focus on Oregon, Washington, North Carolina and Georgia where partnerships and climate policy processes are presenting opportunities to advance our agenda.

Information Dissemination

We have three methods of disseminating our results. The first is through partnerships with organizations like Dogwood Alliance who has excellent capacity for social and regular media outreach. The release of our report on logging and wood products GHG emissions in North Carolina reached thousands across the country who participate in the Stand4Forests listserv and associated social media platforms, and there were numerous regular media stories that incorporated or mentioned our work. As we complete more state-level assessments, we will continue with this approach of partnering with a high-profile organization to get the word out.

The second is through our Forest Carbon Coalition platform. News and blog posts to our website automatically reach 35 additional organizations who then turn around and send our information out to their networks of supporters. FCC is also ramping up its social media capabilities, and now has Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts for doing so. Lastly, CSE’s internal communications team is very good at getting our reports and analyses out to partners, experts, and decision makers through our website and social media platforms but also through presentations and one-on-one meetings with decision makers.

Project Link

Amount Approved
$50,000.00 on 7/1/2019 (Check sent: 7/12/2019)

Climate Impacts of Industrial Forest Practices in NC (PDF)

Logging Truck.jpeg

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Dr. John Talberth
President and Senior Economist, Center for Sustainable Economy

Posted 3/29/2019 1:03 PM
Updated   5/15/2020 3:16 PM

  • Nonprofit

Susan Leopold of CSE's Forest Carbon Coalition (second from left) and our partners take our case for market based mechanisms to scale up climate smart forestry to the US Congress and the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

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