Averting Climate Breakdown by Restoring Ecosystems

A call to action

George Monbiot

Summary:

A recent estimate suggests that around one third of the greenhouse gas mitigation required between now and 2030 can be provided by carbon drawdown through Natural Climate Solutions. Natural Climate Solutions, roughly speaking, mean ecological restoration. Yet they have so far attracted only 2.5% of mitigation funding, and far too little political attention.

Given that they have major advantages over alternative negative emissions strategies and can also deliver wide ecological and social benefits, we call for a great increase in the attention and spending devoted to Natural Climate Solutions, as part of a massively enhanced global effort to prevent both climate breakdown and ecological collapse. Here is a summary of the science available:

  • It is too late to avert 1.5°C or more of global heating solely through reduction of emissions.

  • This means Negative Emission Strategies (NECs), or carbon capture, are required to hit agreed international goals.

  • The major NECs currently proposed are Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) or direct air capture. The consequences of deploying these at the scale required could cause humanitarian and/or ecological disaster, or may themselves push us past climate tipping points.

  • There is another significant solution – a cluster of possibilities involving the restoration and creation of carbon-storing environments such as forests, mangrove swamps, peat bog, salt marsh and seagrass beds. These are known as Natural Climate Solutions, and recent research shows that they could achieve up to 37% of carbon capture goals.

  • To achieve this, we do not need to change how highly-productive agricultural land is used – it can be done with lower-yield land without endangering food security. Beyond carbon capture, natural restoration and the creation of natural spaces also comes with a range of benefits for local communities.

  • Despite this potential, at the time of publishing these solutions receive only 2.5% of funding allocated for carbon capture.

  • We are therefore asking governments, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to give Natural Climate Solutions the attention and funding they deserve.

Click here for full rationale AND LINKS TO RESEARCH