Turning the Mid-Century Decarbonization Strategy into Concrete Policy for U.S. Forests and Agriculture (2017-2018)

The United States Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization was released in November 2016 by the federal government and detailed the critical role that forests and agriculture play in long-term efforts to dramatically reduce net greenhouse gas emissions from the United States. The Strategy notes that conserving and expanding forests, enhancing carbon sequestration in agricultural soils, conserving wetlands and reducing nitrous oxide and methane emissions from agriculture are key strategies to cost-effectively reduce the atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations necessary for the U.S. to help the world avoid dangerous climate change.

This project team developed environmentally sound and politically feasible policy proposals for carbon sequestration/ greenhouse gas emissions reductions in forests, agricultural lands and wetlands in the United States based on the goals outlined in the Mid-Century Strategy. Team members used the Strategy as a jumping-off point for analyzing land availability, policy options and costs associated with meeting the mid-century goals.

Drawing on existing research and models, the team analyzed existing federal programs pertaining to reforestation, forest management, soil carbon and other greenhouse gas reduction activities for effectiveness in spurring climate mitigation activities, costs and potential for expansion.

Team members also explored improvements in (and the political feasibility of) policy mechanisms, such as the use of market-oriented policies such as offsets, that could reduce the costs of achieving climate goals. The team also examined the ancillary benefits of greenhouse gas emissions reductions activities such as water conservation, wildlife protection, rural economic development and policies to promote markets for wood and agricultural products as a means to bolster maintenance and management of forest and agricultural lands.

The team produced a report describing the problem and outlining a series of policy recommendations that was released for Congressional staff, conservation groups, landowner groups and press.


Fall 2017 – Spring 2018

Team Outcomes

Aashna Aggarwal, Danielle Arostegui, Kendall DeLyser, Bethany Hewett, Emily Johnson, Alexander Rudee. 2018. Achieving the Mid-Century Strategy Goals for Deep Decarbonization in Agriculture and Forestry. Working paper, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions


Alex Rudee

Kendall DeLyser

This Team in the News

Finding Solutions Together

Bonnie Joins Biden-Harris Administration in Climate Role at USDA

Land Ahoy: A New Frontier for Climate Action

Meet the Members of the 2017-18 Student Advisory Council


Mountain and trees

Team Leaders

  • Robert Bonnie, Nicholas School of the Environment

/graduate Team Members

  • Danielle Arostegui, Master of Environmental Management, Environmental Economics/Policy
  • Kendall DeLyser, Master of Environmental Management, Ecosystem Science and Conservation, Forest Resource Management-MF
  • Richard Herron, Master of Environmental Management, Environmental Economics/Policy
  • Emily Johnson, Masters of Public Policy, International Dev Policy
  • Alexander Rudee, Master of Environmental Management, Environmental Economics/Policy

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Aashna Aggarwal, Economics (BS)
  • Bethany Hewett, Religion (AB)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Brian Murray, Nicholas School of the Environment-Environmental Sciences and Policy
  • Lydia Olander, Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability
  • Timothy Profeta, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions