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U.S. State Level Initiatives and Programs

U.S. legislation around climate change and the carbon cycle

  • Global Change Research and Data Management Act of 2003, H.R. 1578 Udall (D-CO) states that the United States Global Research Program (USGRP) "has not produced sufficient information to meet the expressed needs of decision makers," (Sec.101(a)(5)) and the USGRP is a main producer of carbon cycle science as it runs the US Carbon Cycle Science Program. The bill continues by stating "In order to most effectively meet the needs of decision makers, both the research agenda of (the USGRP) and its implementation must be informed by continuous feedback from documented users of information generated by the Program."(Sec.101(a)(7)) It goes on to mention how the USGRP needs to identify additional decision-making groups that may use the information. If this bill passes, the Program will "catalog the type of information identified by appropriate Federal, State, regional, and local decision makers needed to develop policies to reduce society's vulnerability to global change and indicate how the planned research will meet these decision makers' information needs."(Sec.105(b)(8))
  • The Climate Stewardship Act of 2003, S.139--Senators McCain and Lieberman proposed a bill that would reduce GHG emissions in the United States by establishing a market-driven system of GHG tradable allowances and to provide further research on abrupt climate change.
  • "Title XXIV of the 1990 farm bill directed the Secretary of Agriculture to 'study the effects of global climate change on agriculture,' including 'the effects of simultaneous increases in temperature and carbon dioxide on crops of economic importance; the effects of more frequent or more severe weather events on such crops; the effects of potential changes in hydrologic regimes on current crop yields;' and other possible impacts."--USDA Website
  • Senator Brownback's farming and carbon sequestration web page lists the legislation Sen. Brownback has proposed and includes congressional testimony giving an idea of the information presented to inform lawmakers.
  • Congressional Testimony by David Hawkins, director of NRDC's climate center--David Hawkins relies on science by the IPCC and the National Academy of Sciences report to President Bush to explain the increases in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide from emissions. He then elaborates on the future atmospheric concentration of CO2 based on the amounts of emissions produced; afterwards he explains policies for CO2 reductions.
  • The Congressional Research Service, a branch of the Library of Congress provides nonpartisan research reports to members of the House and Senate and produces the Global Climate Change Briefing Book. This briefing book examines Greenhouse Gas Sources and Trends, going through the scientific evidence and arguments for global warming as a result of increased greenhouse gases.
  • The last section of each NREL Carbon Sequestration News is entitled Legislative Activity, which documents Carbon-related congressional activity with links to the proposed bills.
  • "Greenhouse Gas Volunteer: The newsletter of the voluntary reporting on greenhouse gases program" has a section entitled legislative summery that (while not recently updated) lists proposed legislation around carbon sequestration.

United States Governmental Organizations:

US Department of Energy (DOE)

The DOE can be viewed as a producer and supplier of carbon cycle science, in particular with it's work on carbon sequestration. At the same time it is also a demander for research as it runs FutureGen, the largest sequestration project undertaken in North America.

  • The DOE's Office of Fossil Energy, the DOE's Office of Science, university researchers, industry, national laboratories and other government agencies produced the Carbon Sequestration Research and Development Report to document the technical and scientific basis for carbon sequestration. In this report the demand for further carbon cycle research is explained in Appendix B. Detailed Descriptions Of Ecosystems And Research And Development Needs. This appendix goes through each ecosystem (Forests, Agricultural and Grassland Ecosystems, Biomass Crop Land, Wetlands, Deserts and Degraded Lands, Urban and Suburban Forested Areas) and describes the background, strategies, objectives, and R&D needs, giving the references utilized.

DOE’ s Office of Fossil Energy Carbon Sequestration Regional Partnerships. Partnerships consist of government agencies, corporations, and public organizations and interests who work together to identify potential opportunities for C sequestration in seven different regions in the United States.

  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory
    • Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center is the major "warehouse" or "distribution center" of carbon cycle research. It has some basic usage statistics that tell what information is requested, or demanded; however, it is difficult to interpret, and the users are unknown other then their domain.
  • Energy Information Administration (EIA)
    • Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2001 is a report which details the sinks and sources of greenhouse gases in the United States, with the emphasis on anthropogenic emissions.
    • The EIA also produces a report entitled Carbon Dioxide Emissions from the Generation of Electric Power in the United States, which likely uses the same calculation methods as the "Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States" report above.
    • Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gases 2001 records the results of voluntary measures to reduce, avoid, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions. This does not report users of science but it points to firms who have completed sequestration projects, and would be a way to find potential users to survey.
    • To help firms report their emissions the EIA has developed technical assistance for volunteering firms to calculate their emissions. This technical assistance comes in the form of software that will perform the calculations, worksheets, guidelines, and coefficients. This assistance is the closest form of science firms need in order to report their carbon dioxide emissions. The EIA can be seen here as taking technical scientific research and turning it into a product that firms can then use in their calculations.
US Department of Agriculture
  • To address global change, the USDA is focusing on understanding ways agriculture and food supplies may be affected by "climate change, rising atmospheric carbon dioxide and ozone levels, and increased UV-B radiation."
    • Component I of the USDA's Action Plan examines the carbon cycle and carbon storage. Component I does a thorough job of giving a background behind how carbon's importance as a building block of life, how soil interacts with carbon and is the largest pool of it, and CO2's atmospheric increases due to the burning of fossil fuels and land use changes. It's mission is to: conduct and transfer the results of research to identify the best practices for storing carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide in natural soil and plant systems to reduce greenhouse gases and enhance soil resources. Specifically, Component I tells what carbon cycle and storage science is demanded when it discusses what is known and unknown for each of the eight subject areas it covers.
  • Soils and the Global C Cycle (SGCC) is an inter-institutional association comprised of The Ohio State University, NRCS, and ARS. The overall goals of the SGCC program are to study the dynamics of soil organic and inorganic carbon pools and fluxes for principal ecoregions, and to assess the impact of anthropogenic activities on these pools and fluxes. Specific objectives of the SGCC program are to: (1) Collate and synthesize available information on the impact of land use and land cover change on soil C dynamics and the global C cycle; (2) Evaluate baseline soil C pools (organic and inorganic) on regional, national and global scales; (3) Assess the impacts of anthropogenic activities (e.g., land use, farming systems, urbanization, mining) on the historic loss of soil C; (4) Quantify the impact of soil degradative and restorative processes on C pools and fluxes in natural and managed ecosystems; (5) Identify land use and management systems that enhance the soil C content in the pedosphere; (6) Develop and standardize methods for determining soil C pools and fluxes; (7) Assess the economic and societal value of soil C; (8)Identify policy issues that will lead to reductions in greenhouse gas (CO2, N2O, CH4) emissions; (9) Create public awareness about the potential and opportunities of using the soil sink for C sequestration to mitigate the greenhouse effect; and (10) Develop better linkages between physical/social scientists and policy/decision makers.

In July, 1999 at The Ohio State University, SGCC organized the "International Symposium, Agricultural Practices and Policies for Carbon (c) Sequestration in Soil." The symposium was created to adding understanding to soil's role in the global change area, while bringing together scientists, policymakers, economists, and the public. The results of the Symposium were published in a book entitled "Agricultural Practices and Policies for Carbon Sequestration" exploring a broad range of topics. (3)

US Environmental Protection Agency
  • The EPA does outreach and education on global warming and the carbon cycle, which is informed by research. The EPA addresses how humans have affected the carbon cycle through its presentation of Land Use and Forestry. Other EPA uses of carbon cycle science are located in other parts of this page.
  • U.S. Agency for International Development, has produced Global Climate Change Reports, however it is not clear whether they were informed with carbon cycle research, or if they just rely on just social sciences such as economics in their analysis.

Non-Government Organizations

  • American Electric Power is the largest electric power producer in the United States. Thus, global warming could be seen as a major risk or liability and it has been one of the most active companies in confronting climate change. It has been involved with the projects in Bolivia and has voluntarily complied with the Chicago Climate Exchange. In the New York Times, Bruce Braine, vice president for strategic planning at AEP explained why they were so active as: "It's an insurance policy, if you ultimately have mandatory requirements, then this gives us first-mover advantages."
    • AEP has a website which further documents their efforts at reducing carbon dioxide
    • AEP accounted for the largest number of sequestration projects (14 percent of the 251 afforestation and reforestation projects) recorded in the 2001 Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Report.
  • American Forests offers a program entitled City Green that calculates the Carbon Storage and Avoidance that is possible by planting trees in urban areas. US forest service scientists have provided the coefficients needed for calculating the carbon sequestered by trees planted. American Forests also reported one-third of the carbon sequestration projects submitted to in the 2000 Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Report.
  • The Better World Club offers carbon offsets for air travel without attention to carbon cycle research.
  • Center for International Forestry Research uses carbon cycle science to the extent it links carbon sequestration to forests such as it's work with Winrock International.
  • -- Mark C. Trexler has made a career out of consulting on climate change mitigation and carbon sequestration in forestry, and is the author of numerous publications. Some of the carbon cycle research his firm, Trexler and Associates, Inc., utilizes in their work can be found in their Carbon Offset Bibliography.
  • Climate Ark is an educational global climate change and renewable energy portal. It connects anyone looking for carbon cycle science (demand) with it's numerous links (supply).
  • CO2 Science Magazine is a weekly review and repository of scientific research pertaining to CO2 and global change with editorials on newly published research on carbon dioxide.
  • In December 1998, the Eno Transportation Foundation's Board of Directors recommended that the foundation build awareness--without advocating anything--amongst transportation leaders on facts and issues related to climate change. The Department of Transportation and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program agreed to partner in the effort. The result was 14 presentations that make up the body of Global Climate Change and Transportation: Coming to Terms.
  • Electric Power Research Institute(EPRI)is a non-profit research consortium that provides science and technology-based solutions to their energy customers. They provide scientific expertise on climate change mitigation though sequestration, either in forestry in conjunction with Winrock Internaitonal or though technology options.
  • Future Harvest has worked with the FAO and sees a role for carbon trading. The science they use is not known.
  • Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) only brushes over the global warming science instead focusing on actions cities can take to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Program provides a CO2 Sequestration website, which documents sequestration projects worldwide. These projects each require cutting-edge carbon sequestration research while producing their own results--there is no direct mention of the science that is utilized.
  • The Pew Center of Global Climate Change describes itself as a “non-profit, non-partisan and independent organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change.” “The objective of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change is to educate the public and key policy makers about the causes and potential consequences of climate change, and to encourage the domestic and international community to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. To accomplish this objective, the Pew Center will: (1) release highly publicized reports on environmental impacts, economics and policy issues; (2) educate the public through advertising, public-speaking events and conferences; and (3) advance international negotiations on climate change by coordinating cross-country policy, industry and government discussions."
    The Center “publishes reports on domestic and international policy, economic, environmental impacts, and practical solutions relating to climate change.” (7) An example of their publications is a volume entitled Climate change: science, strategies, & solutions. It is broken into segments, with the first entitled “Science and Impacts,” which gives an overview of both the science behind global warming, and where the debate was as of 2001. In this volume carbon cycle science is fitted into the various sections that individual authors write.
    • The center's web page entitled Policymakers' Guide - Business describes what carbon sequestration is and some of the corporations with carbon sequestration projects. A further search of these companies and their projects is needed to know the carbon cycle research they utilize in their decisions.
  • RTI economists were asked by the U.S. negotiating team to evaluate key provisions of the Kyoto Protocol with regard to land use, land use change, and forests, and their implications on costs of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and overall environmental benefits.
  • "The Union of Concerned Scientists is a nonprofit partnership of scientists and citizens combining rigorous scientific analysis, innovative policy development and effective citizen advocacy to achieve practical environmental solutions." On their webpage they explain global warming arguing it's existence and importance. They cite CIDAC research in explaining the trends and distribution of carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Winrock International has a Forest Carbon Monitoring Program, which they use when contracted as a third-party to measure and verify carbon offsets and sequestration in forestry projects. Examples of these projects are the effort initiated by the Nature Conservancy in Bolivia or with the Center for International Forest Research (CIFOR) in Bogor, Indonesia.
    The measurement and verification aspects of forest-ecosystem carbon sequestration seem to require the most technical knowledge about stocks of carbon. John Kadyszewski has reported to congress on the methods and procedures Winrock employs. New lower cost monitoring methods of using aerial digital photography and videography are being developed with the support of EPRI. Through John Kadyszewski congressional testimony, one can see third party verifiers rely more on forest management information then carbon sequestration research in their verification and that the EIA provides data on forestry sequestration potentials.
  • Woods Hole Research Center, from an ecological perspective, does research and education around "the warming of the earth, the systematic loss of biotic productivity, the destruction of forests, and the impoverishment of terrestrial systems globally." On their website they describe the Carbon Cycle taking research from sources such as CIDAC to highlight the increases in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and the increase of global warming.
  • World Resources Institute (WRI) is an environmental research and policy organization working to protect the environment and improve people's lives. One of main issues WRI focuses on is climate change and WRI has many projects and publications on the subject.
    • WRI is a lead organization on a major project called the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative (GHG Protocol), which is working with many companies and organizations to come up with standards for measuring and reporting emissions. In creating the standards they use their own work and that of the US EPA and US DOE as sources in how net carbon is calculated.
    • Another WRI project in conjunction with Center for Environmental Leadership in Business is SafeClimate, which comes out of the work that was done by the GHG Protocol. It offers individuals or businesses ways to calculate their carbon emissions and steps that can be taken to reduce their "footprint." When explaining the Science and Impacts of Climate Change SafeClimate refers people to the U.S. Global Change Research Program.
    • World Resources Institute has published many books in regards to activities being undertaken to mitigate climate change.
  • European Tropical Forest Research Network (ETFRN)
  • Cropwatch is the University of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension 
  • The Iowa Farm Bureau also uses information on the C cycle and on carbon offsets.

United Nations

  • UN Food and Agriculture Organization
  • "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1988. Its main objective was to assess scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to the understanding of human induced climate change, potential impacts of climate change and options for mitigation and adaptation."
    • As the IPCC's job is to understand human induced climate change, it has to weigh all the evidence and thus is a "demander" of carbon cycle research. At the same time the results of their review of the scientific evidence is then heavily cited as where the scientific consensus is at behind global warming--thus it becomes a supplier of carbon cycle research to those who cite it.
    • The IPCC also creates Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories that details how to conduct inventories of global warming gases, including carbon dioxide. The IPCC has to use the research that is available and conduct it's own when needed to provide accurate ways to for countries to comply to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC)
  • United Nations Framework Convention On Climate Change(UNFCCC).
World Bank
Carbon Trading

Carbon reductions trading seems like an obvious area where carbon cycle science could be used; however, one might be surprised. To record emission reductions, a firm needs to calculate their reductions to see whether they buy or sell credits. There is no need for carbon cycle research if a firm buys credits. If on the other hand a firm sells credits they will need to go to a third party to verify and legitimize the reductions made. Again firms do not need expertise to hire a consultant. Consultants and third party verifiers may have the most potential to demand for carbon cycle science. Below I have tried to show as many of these trading options as I could find:

  • Chicago Climate Exchange was recently created to let companies voluntarily participate in carbon trading.
  • CO2e
  • Search
  • Clean Air Markets - Allowance Trading--This explains the background economics behind sulfur dioxide allowance trading. SOx trading was a nation wide program that successfully reduced the emissions of this acid rain causing pollutant. Thus SOx trading is the archetype suggested when carbon dioxide trading is suggested. This link doesn't contain Carbon cycle science but is useful to understand how trading in pollution operates.
  • International Carbon Bank and Exchange is working to help their clients establish a baseline, calculate emissions, and submit reductions; after verification emissions can be "banked" and traded. The carbon cycle science they point their prospective clients to is located on their resource page.
  • Emissions Credits International
  • Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Trading (GERT) is a pilot project allows Canadians to learn about emissions trading through participating in a pilot project.


 (1) Hassol, Susan Joy, Randy Udall, "A Change in Climate," In: Issues in Science and Technology. (Spring 2003), pp.39-46.

(2) Marland and A. Pippin, “United States Emissions of Carbon Dioxide to the Earth’s Atmosphere by Economic Activity,” Energy Systems and Policy, Vol.14 (1990), pp. 319-336, and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Estimation of Greenhouse Gases and Sinks (1991), p. 2.18.

(3) Kimble, J.M., R. Lal, R.F. Follett (Eds). Agricultural Practices and Policies for Carbon Sequestration in Soil. CRC Press, New York. (2000)

(4) Website: Dutch National Research Programme on Global Air Pollution and Climate Change

(5) Zwerver, S., R.S.A.R. van Rompaey, M.T.J. Kok & M.M. Berk (eds.): Climate Change Research: Evaluation and policy implications - Proceedings of an International Conference. 6-9 December 1994, Maastricht. Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam

(6) Unsworth, Michael H., Gordon Wolf, Current progress in the study of global biogeochemical cycles, In: Zwerver, S., R.S.A.R. van Rompaey, M.T.J. Kok & M.M. Berk (eds.): Climate Change Research: Evaluation and policy implications - Proceedings of an International Conference. 6-9 December 1994, Maastricht. Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam pp. 9-25

(7) Eileen Claussen et al., Climate change: science, strategies, & solutions, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Arlington Virginia 2001

(9) Trexler, Mark C., "Carbon offset strategies: a private sector perspective", In: Jepma, C.J. (ed.), The Feasibility of Joint Implementation, Klewer Academic Publishers. Netherlands. (1995) pp. 233-248.