Natural Climate Solutions
Better stewardship of the land could have a bigger role in fighting climate change than previously thought.
In October 2017, scientists from our global affiliate The Nature Conservancy, along with 15 other institutions, released the most comprehensive study to date demonstrating the importance of natural-based solutions in addressing climate change.
Cost-effective, Game-changing Offsets
The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that greenhouse gas emissions can be cost-effectively reduced and stored in forests, farmland, grasslands, and wetlands to deliver more than a third of the reductions required by 2030 to prevent dangerous levels of global warming. This is equivalent to a complete stop on the burning of oil, worldwide.
11.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year could be offset by natural climate solutions including planting more trees, reforesting degraded forests, engaging in responsible forest management, and improving cropland and peatland management. These natural solutions also provide a range of co-benefits such as conserving freshwater and maintaining species diversity, which support the broader cultural and environmental objectives at the heart of Nature United’s work.
Canada's Role: Boreal Forest Conservation
The study concludes that forest-based strategies around the world (including reforestation, avoided conversion and sustainable management) represent the largest opportunity, potentially removing 7 billion tonnes of CO2e annually by 2030 — equal to taking 1.5 billion gasoline-burning cars off the roads.
Canada’s boreal forest is part of the largest terrestrial carbon storehouse in the world, and our work here carries global implications. Our forest ecologist, Dr. Ronnie Drever, says working with forestry industries on sustainable logging strategies can provide economic benefits while simultaneously fighting climate change.
Powerful Strategies, Smart Policies
Natural climate solutions are not meant to be used in isolation, however, and instead should be combined with reductions in fossil fuel usage to achieve Paris targets. With UN climate talks in Germany next month, the study hopes to inform government leaders of powerful natural strategies to be implemented in conjunction with policies promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency, and clean transport.
Thanks to your support, Nature United is working across the boreal forest, in coastal British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories to advance responsible forestry, develop sustainable economies, and support indigenous leadership.
And with your continued support, we will keep working to expand the role of natural climate solutions in providing practical and cost-effective benefits to both nature and people.
More From Our Global Affiliate
How Nature Can Help Our Planet Heal
A study by our global affiliate and other organizations shows that climate solutions in nature can equal stopping the burning of coal annually. Learn More
Innovative Solutions for Nature and Climate
Mark Tercek of The Nature Conservancy discusses collaborating across sectors to scale up natural solutions to climate change. Learn More
Nature’s Make or Break Potential
Study shows we’ve been underestimating nature’s role in tackling climate change. Learn More