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Natural Climate Solutions (NCS)

June 2019: NCS focus on ecosystem restoration projects that could deliver approximately a third of the carbon reduction needed between now and 2030. Many solutions currently receive limited funding opportunities and attract only narrow political attention.

Information

Climate scientists are increasingly focusing on Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) as a supplementary climate mitigation strategy. Generally, NCS fall under the umbrella term of ecological restoration and includes the protection, sustainable management, and restoration of natural or modified ecosystems, such as protecting and restoring natural forests, restoring coastal habitats such as mangroves, salt marsh and seagrass beds, closing large parts of the sea to trawling, recovering certain animal populations, and restoring peat by blocking drainage channels. This could contribute over one third of cost-effective climate mitigation needed between now and 2030, but should always be seen as complementary to other mitigation strategies e.g. decarbonising the economy. Despite their potential, these solutions currently only attract 2.5% of mitigation funding.

Implications & Opportunities

Fostering diverse and intact natural ecosystems allows for a more comprehensive approach that focuses simultaneously on mitigating climate change and threats to ecosystems and biodiversity. Campaigns such as Friends of the Earth’s New Tree Campaign raise awareness for NCS while highlighting the co-benefits for people and ecosystems. For example, doubling the number of trees in the UK could deliver annual carbon sequestration equal to approximately 10% of the UK’s current greenhouse emissions while offering areas for leisure for local communities. Nonetheless, all NCS projects should work with the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous people and local communities.

Limitations

Models and methodologies that estimate the effect of NCS remain at an early research stage and show wide variation in the amount of GHG emissions that could be mitigated. In addition, the above mentioned study does not include marine ecosystems.


Sources

Seddon, N.,Turner, B., Berry, P., et.al. 2019. Grounding nature-based climate solutions in sound biodiversity science. Nature Climate Change. 9, 82-87.

The Guardian. 2019. The natural world can help save us from climate catastrophe. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/03/natural-world-climate-catastrophe-rewilding

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