To address climate change, we have to invest in natural climate solutions. The imperative of realizing these carbon reductions becomes even more urgent if we are to limit warming to 1.5°C.

The land is responsible for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. But if better managed, it can provide more than a third of the carbon reductions needed to keep warming well below 2°C, the target agreed at the Paris climate talks.

Natural climate solutions are proven ways of storing and reducing carbon emissions in the world’s forests, grasslands and wetlands, and better stewardship of the land also has impact on other critical environmental, social and economic benefits, which are less well understood. These solutions are available immediately, are scalable and can transform key sectors of the global economy, such as forestry and agriculture.

A peer-reviewed study, led by scientists from The Nature Conservancy and 15 other institutions and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), expanded and refined the scope of land-based climate solutions previously assessed by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC).

The PNAS paper says that natural climate solutions can deliver 37% of cost-effective carbon dioxide mitigation needed by 2030 for a greater than 66% chance of holding global warming below 2°C this century.

We call this range of opportunities, ‘natural climate solutions’. They are economic, scalable, and crucially they are available now and almost everywhere on the planet.

Natural climate solutions can help address climate change in three ways:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), related to land use and changes in land use
  • Capturing and storing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
  • Improving resilience of ecosystems, thereby helping communities adapt to the increase in flooding and dry spells associated with climate change.