Countries miss the mark on climate action, but nature could help get us back on track

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According to the latest report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), countries are not on track to meet their climate commitments – and even if they were, humanity may still not achieve the transformative changes needed to avert climate catastrophe.

Released today, the IPCC report says cutting fossil fuels is key to keeping temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and preventing climate change’s worst impacts climatic. It also highlights a powerful and largely untapped solution to stem the climate crisis: nature.

The report finds that three actions – reducing the destruction of forests and other ecosystems, restoring them, and improving the management of working lands, such as farms – are among the five most effective strategies for mitigating carbon emissions from here 2030.

“Today’s report is the most conclusive endorsement yet of nature as a climate solution,” said Bronson Griscom, a Conservation International climatologist whose studies are cited in the IPCC report. “It tells us that we must act now, with all the tools at our disposal, to avoid a dangerous rise in temperatures – and it says that nature’s contributions are essential. This changes things.

Nature is a key ally for the climate

This is the third installment in the series of IPCC reports in eight months. But where the other two reports focused on the causes and impacts of climate change, this one focuses on the solutions.


Not only do high-carbon ecosystems like forests and mangroves absorb and store greenhouse gases, but they are also among the most cost-effective options for dealing with the climate crisis, according to the IPCC. The report finds that providing global natural climate solutions that limit warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) would cost up to US$400 billion a year by 2050, less than current subsidies for agriculture and forestry as if nothing had happened.

“When we protect nature to stabilize our climate, we are also supporting the communities that depend on it daily,” Griscom said. “This is essential because these communities are disproportionately affected by climate change, but bear the least responsibility for it.”

But despite the benefits, natural climate solutions currently receive less than 3% of all global climate finance.

“Nature remains a woefully underinvested solution,” said Conservation International CEO Mr Sanjayan. “We can save our climate and protect the nature we need to thrive and live in a more equal and just world. There is still time, our future remains to be written. But it will take all we have, and we have to start now.

What should happen next

Halting climate breakdown will require nothing less than a complete transformation of our energy supplies, business models and land management, experts say. According to the report, it is necessary – and entirely possible – to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to keep the temperature increase below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

But it will require action across all sectors, according to the report’s authors. Some of the most important actions they cite are dramatically reducing the use of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, and cutting methane emissions by a third.

Most tropical countries must also prioritize nature when implementing their climate commitments under the Paris Agreement, according to Griscom. The private and financial sectors also have a role to play by urgently committing to net-zero carbon targets in their supply chains – and ensuring that nature plays a vital role in achieving these. Goals.

But a global consensus for climate action is hard to come by, as evidenced by a brief delay in the publication of the IPCC report due to disagreements over the wording of the document as talks between world representatives moved past overtime.

One way to bridge the funding gap for natural climate solutions is through well-regulated carbon markets, which can provide financial incentives to communities, regions and countries to keep forests intact and prevent climate change. global warming emissions caused by deforestation.

“Carbon markets can provide the boost we need for a low-carbon future by providing rapid investments to implement natural climate solutions,” Griscom said.


Currently, experts at Conservation International, including Griscom, are developing a roadmap for countries, investors, businesses and land stewards around the world to implement effective nature-based solutions. The idea is to translate global and national goals into recommendations for specific actions by specific people in specific places. For example, climate-smart forestry practices, such as training loggers to minimize damage to non-commercial trees in tropical forests, could significantly reduce emissions from the timber industry, while improving workplace safety and sustainable wood production.

“What’s exciting about this moment is that we can clearly see the many solutions available to address the climate crisis – among which nature stands out,” Griscom said. “The past decade has been about gathering the knowledge needed to prepare for action. Now is the time to step up a gear. »

Kiley Price is the editor and managing editor of Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up here to receive updates by email. Donate to Conservation International here.

Cover image: The Coastal Mountains to the shore are California State Route 92 to Half Moon Bay Justin Kern/Flickr Creative Commons)

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