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Terrestrial and marine ecosystems play an important role in regulating climate. They are natural solutions capable of absorbing roughly half of man-made carbon emissions.
Although we are aware that forests, oceans, and soil act as natural carbon sinks for the CO2 released into the atmosphere, it wasn’t until recently that scientists figured out just how much nature could contribute to solving the climate crisis.
Thanks to Bronson Griscom, Director of Forest Carbon Science at The Nature Conservancy (TNC), new research was found on how effective nature’s role is in mitigating climate risks can be.
In this article, we will discuss in detail the findings and the role that nature can play in preventing climate change.
Ecologists and climate enthusiasts have mainly focussed on conserving the forest while, perhaps unintentionally, not realising the importance of other biomes – agricultural lands, grasslands, and wetlands – and their ability to mediate the atmosphere.
According to the World Resources Institute, forests can sequester 16 billion tonnes of carbon a year- over twice as much as the carbon they put back into the atmosphere.
It is estimated that the ocean concentrates 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere. For some scientists, the deep sea and its water column may be the largest carbon sink on Earth
Scientists have estimated that soils—mostly, agricultural ones—could sequester up to 5 billion tonnes of carbon each year.
As per the Paris Agreement, it is critical we stop the Earth’s temperature from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius. And while it’s not like we haven’t already taken measures to reduce our emissions, the reality is we still aren’t doing enough to protect the planet’s natural resources.
The rise and adoption of EVs is a great example of a technology designed to curb carbon emissions but has significantly less impact on preventing climate change than the conservation and protection of natural resources. Technological advancements are rendered useless if we do not step up and take care of our planet first.
Here we are, trying to perfect man-made technologies to produce less emissions, but guess what? Forests, oceans, and soil act as a natural solution to climate change that have perfected the process of carbon absorption over millennia.
Nature-based climate solutions provide up to 37% of emission reductions needed by 2030 to keep the global temperature under 2 degrees celsius – 30% percent more than previously estimated.
This also means that no matter what we can invent in the next few years, we’re unlikely to see a better carbon capture and storage technology than that which nature provides in the form of forests and grasslands.
Natural climate solutions have not yet been properly utilised. Technologies related to clean transport, green energy, and renewable power receive nearly 30 times the amount of public mitigation investment that land-based solutions receive. And out of the funding that is kept aside for natural climate solutions, the vast majority goes to forest protection in developing countries.
The data at hand suggests that globally, forest pathways offer about half of the lowest-cost climate opportunities and the grassland and agriculture pathways account for a quarter, and wetlands nearly a fifth.
So, natural solutions carry a huge scope for the future when it comes to preventing climate impacts. If natural climate solutions are mobilised over the next 10 to 15 years, they could provide 37% of the needed mitigation for global climate targets. In short, we can say “nature is the sleeping giant”.
But there’s also a small catch here – we don’t have time to wait. We need to take the required action now. If action is delayed until after 2030, that number drops to 33%, and drops again to only 22% after 2050.
Natural solutions are also highly cost effective when it comes to reducing high volumes of carbon. The implementation of low-cost opportunities comes at only $10 (or even less at a time) per tonne CO2e removed.
Another benefit of natural climate solutions is that they offer more than just carbon reduction capabilities. If natural solutions are properly implemented, they can offer water filtration, flood buffering, improved soil health, protection of biodiversity and their habitats, and enhanced climate resilience.
At OneTribe we acknowledge the role of natural climate solutions in combating climate change. By micro-funding conservation projects around the globe, businesses can take immediate action to protect and utilise these natural resources.
Our climate action platform integrates with e-commerce websites to protect endangered forests with every online sale. All payments are certified by One Tribe and these are transferred to our forest conservation partners who work around the clock to protect endangered forestscapes.
Since forests are also home for a wide variety of flora and fauna species of which the several are into the category of endangered or threatened, in this way, our efforts also contribute towards wildlife conservation.
When we talk about nature’s solution to climate change, forests are one of the solutions along with multiple others we need to explore and protect.
For a very long time, we’ve been overlooking the role of natural climate solutions, especially the agricultural lands and wetlands, in reducing or absorbing carbon emissions. But now we realise their full potential, natural solutions are not only effective, but also an efficient and cheap principle to implement into carbon reduction plans.
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