On Monday, November 21st, the Environmental Sustainability Committee for the Indianapolis City/County Council convened to discuss a Special Resolution asking the Committee to develop a Carbon Credit plan in 2023 that will create a financial path for protecting Indianapolis’ urban forests and trees.
While some resolutions are not monumental starting points for consequential law, this resolution provides the framework for the creation of a truly workable system that monetizes the carbon value trees and our old-growth forests provide and creates a funding stream for the city to procure the most valuable old-growth forests across Marion County.
At the hearing IFA’s Executive Director Jeff Stant testified. “We heartily endorse this resolution’s endeavor to support the establishment of a program to sell carbon credits for conserving trees and forests in the city of Indianapolis and call for the creation of a fund to receive revenues from this program to be used to acquire, manage and expand the urban tree canopy and protected forests in Indianapolis.”
Jeff also pointed out that IFA’s Urban Forest Protection Strategy estimates that unprotected urban forests provide more than $257 million worth of benefits every year. These include aesthetic value, stormwater drainage and filtration, energy savings and air quality, but also an estimated $3.8 million dollars in carbon captured.
Jeff wisely encouraged the Committee to seek the input of the staff of the city that works with the statutes and ordinances, along with forestry experts to develop a well-supported estimate of the total price tag for acquiring forests targeted in existing city plans like the City’s Full Circle Greenways plan. Establishing a price tag enables the City to know how much is needed to procure the forests that will make up the greenways.
Once that price tag is established, it should become the benchmark for how much funding the city should seek to raise to acquire at least the Greenway property. Then the carbon credit program can be established in a manner that can fund that acquisition. While the carbon credit program may not kick off enough income to raise the entire amount immediately, it at least establishes a funding stream that can then be used to pay back green infrastructure bonds that the Indianapolis Bond Bank can issue to buy those lands.
The resolution states that the city should seek to establish the carbon credit system in 2023. In upcoming blog posts we will keep you informed of the Committee’s and the Council’s progress on this and related issues like updating the tree protection ordinances, so you can be engaged in the discussion and encourage the city’s leadership to move forward boldly and wisely.