Increased action by governments and business on land sector to address climate change needed

  • Partners launch five-year initiative, Nature4Climate, to address huge, untapped potential of land sector to rapidly and economically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Launch includes call for subnational governments and businesses to back the 30X30 Forests, Food and Land Challenge at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco in September.

 

On the first day of the Ministerial Climate Change (MOCA) Summit, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and five not-for-profits launched an initiative calling for concerted action to address a neglected area of climate change – the land sector.

Last year a study by 16 institutions including several of the Nature4Climate partners found that the land sector contributes a quarter of total greenhouse gas emissions, but could deliver as much as a third of the greenhouse gas reductions required by 2030 to keep global warming below 2 degrees, and do so cost-effectively. Natural climate solutions such as reforestation, conservation agriculture and coastal wetland protection enhance nature’s ability to absorb and store carbon in forests, farms and wetlands.

While there is increasing policy action and investment on renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, governments have been slow to date to address land use. Just 38 out of the 160 governments who signed the Paris agreement have specific targets for the sector. Moreover, natural climate solutions only receive 3% of public mitigation finance, despite being the only economic carbon removal solution available today at scale.

Nature4Climate is the world’s first coordinated effort to address the totality of natural climate solutions – across forests, farms, grasslands and wetlands. The group brings together UNDP as well as Conservation International (CI), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Woods Hole Research Center, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), World Resources Institute (WRI). Together they will work over the next five years with national and subnational governments, and business groups at the global and national levels, to increase policy action and investment on natural climate solutions.

Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, said: “Nature-based solutions for climate are one of the most cost-effective approaches we have for achieving our climate goals. They also provide multiple co-benefits for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals – investing in nature is not only the smart thing to do, it is the right thing to do.”

Dr. Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the World Resources Institute, said: “Landscape restoration is the next big thing. It has extraordinary benefits for the economy, jobs, food security, and the climate—but until now, only a sliver of public climate finance and policy attention has been dedicated to land use,” said Dr. Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resources Institute. “The Nature4Climate Initiative is coming at exactly the right moment to build on the growing momentum to restore degraded land, encourage investment, and help save people and the planet.”

To date, different NGOs and UN agencies have tended to focus mostly on protecting tropical forests as the main land use climate strategy. As part of the initiative, the partners launched a new website today, at Nature4Climate.org. This includes the N4CMapper, which shows the potential of 10 natural climate solutions to reduce and store greenhouse gas emissions in 190 countries, both rich and poor, and north and south.

Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy, said: “Natural climate solutions are absolutely critical in addressing the climate challenge—and they include strategies that are available today, in every country, ready to be implemented and scaled. Managing land presents a great opportunity: it is one of the most effective, cost-efficient tools we have to slow the runaway effects of climate change.”

Dr. Phil Duffy, President, Woods Hole Research Center, said: “There is no feasible way to stay under 2°C of warming without significant removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. There is no better technology for large scale carbon removal, available right now, than natural systems. Science has shown us the scale and potential. Nature4climate will help national and international climate policy makers to take advantage of this opportunity.”

The partners are also engaging with businesses and local, regional and state governments, including at the upcoming Global Climate Summit in California in September. The 30×30 Challenge, launched last week, invites non-state actors to increase action on land use, alongside four other key challenge areas, and calls for action on forests, food and land to deliver 30% of the solution to climate change by 2030.

Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International, said: “Under R&D for 4.5 billion years, nature is the only carbon sequestration technology that today achieves negative emissions at a meaningful scale. It is also among the most economical forms of climate mitigation available and has hosts of other benefits.  We have the knowledge to use land efficiently, to protect carbon in soils, and to keep carbon rich forests standing.  What we need is partnerships among governments, businesses, indigenous communities and civil society to get it done.”

Peter Bakker, CEO of World Business Council for Sustainable Development, said: “The implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement is a collective challenge, and the private sector is committed to delivering the required business pathways. Forward-thinking businesses are calling on all leaders to introduce effective economic mechanisms for transitioning to a low-carbon world, including carbon pricing and the recognition of nature’s contribution to carbon storage and emission-reduction potential. We are keen to be working in partnership with Nature4Climate to help scale investment, business action, and ambition on natural climate solutions.”

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About N4C

Nature4Climate (N4C) is an initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and five world-leading not-for-profits (Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, Woods Hole Research Center, World Business Council for Sustainable Development and World Resources Institute) that aims to increase investment and action on natural climate solutions in support of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. The N4C partners work together to catalyse partnerships between governments, civil society, business and investors to cut and remove greenhouse gas emissions across the land sector. To learn more, please visit www.nature4climate.org or follow @nature4climate on Twitter.

 

Thumbnail photo credit: ©Erika Nortemann
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