Carbon markets benefit the health of the Chesapeake Bay, as the properties and practices that sequester carbon also improve water quality. Virginia has capitalized on this opportunity by amending the Industrial Development Act, which now allows counties to aggregate forest and agriculture landowners in the sale of carbon credits to attract greater private capital investment. A portion of the revenue generated is allocated to the landowners and the remaining revenue goes to the county.
This is a major development because the revenue from carbon market transactions can cover a property’s maintenance costs, expand a county’s budget, and fund new conservation projects without the need for new infrastructure. If replicated in other Chesapeake Bay watershed states, this policy could address the greater problems of climate change, water quality, or biodiversity without jeopardizing our current or future resources, economy, and quality of life.