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.


With funding from the Walker Foundation, CSE will work to transform industrial forest practices with a high climate impact to climate smart alternatives through market-based solutions. At the federal level, our work will focus on taking advantage of the many new opportunities created by the Biden-Harris Administration and the 117th Congress. The Forest Carbon Coalition, co-directed by CSE, will help mobilize scientific, community, and conservation organizations to support an agenda that includes accounting for logging and wood products sector emissions, a forest carbon tax and reward program, and redirection of harmful subsidies. CSE will also work with coalitions in place in Oregon, Washington, North Carolina and Maine to promote these market-based solutions as essential components to state-level climate action plans. In addition, CSE will prepare and submit a manuscript on our forest carbon tax and reward program to a leading peer-reviewed journal.

Clearcutting in the Pacific Northwest
These cutover lands are sources of greenhouse gas emissions and are making the land more susceptible to climate change, including wildfires, heat waves, floods and landslides.


This is a six-month status update on CSE’s implementation of its US Forest Carbon Pricing Initiative in 2021. To date, the focus of CSE’s efforts has been to engage with the Biden Administration on implementation of Executive Order 140008 and the new US pledge to end deforestation and forest degradation by 2030. We are working both through CSE itself as well as through the CSE-sponsored Forest Carbon Coalition. We are also working with members of Congress to ensure that funding contained in the Build Back Better (reconciliation) and Infrastructure packages eliminate harmful subsidies for logging.

At the state level, the focus of our work on is on management of Department of Natural Resources (DNR) forestlands in Washington State since these forests are among the most productive carbon sinks on the planet but are being managed with conventional logging practices that generate significant greenhouse gas emissions and make the land far more susceptible to the effects of climate change. Policy initiatives in play in Washington hold the promise of catalyzing a shift from these practices to climate smart alternatives that are more profitable, and ecologically sustainable for rural communities.

With respect to the four key activities set forth in our initial workplan, here are some key outputs:

#1: Federal-level engagement with the Biden Administration and Congress.

-CSE and the Forest Carbon Coalition published America’s Tattered Forests, a Roadmap for USDA-USDI Compliance with EO 14008 in the late spring. We organized a sign on letter endorsed by 75 organizations and are now routinely following up with federal agencies to monitor their implementation of the EO and pressuring them to adopt elements of the roadmap, including a market-based forest carbon tax and reward program.

-In September, CSE joined John Muir Project in publishing Running Backwards: How Logging Related Provisions in the Infrastructure and Reconciliation Packages Would Take Us Away from our GHG Reduction Pledges. The report quantified the emissions and social costs of the logging subsidies and was disseminated to all members of Congress over the past month. We have made significant progress in getting sideboards on the logging-related provisions and are now following up with members of Congress to ensure that they are on board monitoring how the funds are being spent in their districts.

-At COP26, the US joined 140 other nations in signing a pledge to eliminate deforestation and forest degradation by 2030. Serendipitously, this was the overriding message of our publication in the spring, and as such, it has opened the doors to State Department officials who will be responsible for monitoring compliance with this pledge in the years ahead.

#2 – State-level initiatives

-In Washington State, Governor Inslee and Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz have both issued policy proclamations calling attention to the critical role management of the state’s forestlands – especially those managed by DNR – can play in mitigating the planet’s climate crisis. CSE is working hard to hold these decision makers responsible for ending the commercial logging program on these lands and replacing lost revenues with those that can be earned from forest carbon markets and markets for other ecosystem services, like conservation leases.

-Also in Washington State, CSE is working with dozens of local members and organizational partners to challenge conventional logging operations authorized by DNR and demonstrate that DNR can generate far more economic benefits through a switch to carbon market revenues and climate smart forest practices.

#3 – Forest Carbon Coalition

-FCC has expanded again and now supports 75 members. We are planning to hire a full-time coalition organizer in the early spring. FCC has been active on all of our federal and state-level work described above and is set to help lead efforts to hold the US Government to its pledge to end deforestation and forest degradation by 2030.

#4 – Forest Carbon Tax and Reward publication

-The publication is in progress, and should be submitted to Ecological Economics by March at the latest. We have co-authors from WRI, Pinchot Institute, Wild Heritage, and EcoMarket Solutions now on board and are in the process of manipulating the forest carbon data we downloaded from the 2001-2019 period.


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 rebalancing markets to support efficient use of energy resources, forestlands, and wood products.

With respect to forestlands, CSE has pioneered the development of several market based policy interventions that decision makers can use to help expedite the transformation of industrial forest practices to climate smart alternatives. These include forest carbon tax and reward, subsidy reform, cap and invest, no net loss and climate resiliency plans for large owners.


We are working at the federal level by participating in new regulatory processes initiated by the Biden-Harris Administration via Executive Order 140008 as well as the US pledge to end deforestation and forest degradation by 2030. The Forest Carbon Coalition will serve as our primary partner within these processes. Other opportunities at the federal level are emerging as several members of the 117th Congress are floating ideas for strong forest-climate legislation this term. We are also working at the state level in parallel executive-order processes, primarily in the states of Maine, North Carolina, Washington and Oregon. These states will be the focus of our peer reviewed forest carbon tax and reward publication as well.

Information Dissemination

All publications and agency communications from CSE and the Forest Carbon Coalition are being posted on our websites and distributed via Twitter and Facebook to partners and supporters. The Forest Carbon Tax and Reward publication will be published in Ecological Economics and disseminated broadly to state-level forest policy makers. In addition, CSE’s Dr. John Talberth continues to be a key presenter at multiple regional coalition meetings and conferences.

Project Link

Amount Approved
$50,000.00 on 6/8/2021 (Check sent: 6/11/2021)

Clearcutting in the Pacific Northwest
Climate-Impacts-of-Industrial-Forest-Practices-in-NC-PartI-II (PDF)

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

Posted 3/18/2021 12:52 PM
Updated   5/26/2022 4:03 PM

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