Rural economies could get a massive boost under policies meant to decrease carbon emissions, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.
The analysis, published in January, found that by enacting climate policies, such as investing in soil health to sequester carbon and incentivizing renewable energy, $8 billion could be funneled to rural communities.
“If done right, taking climate action will be a win-win for rural communities, counteracting the shifts to their way of life,” the report states. “Taking action will also help them to preserve a rich heritage.”
By bolstering soil health programs, for example, there could be less erosion during floods and more carbon staying in the ground. And improved broadband access — another investment the report advocates for — could help more farmers use precision agriculture and decrease the amount of fertilizer and water they use.
Ryan Richards, one of the co-authors of the study, said farmers and land managers are already aware of these programs, but there’s limited funding and not everyone can participate.
“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel here,” he said. “What we need to do is provide support to the folks who want to do good, to give them that platform to do so.”
However, Richards said investing in rural communities is just one part of a larger effort needed to mitigate climate change.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center For the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.