Natural climate solutions are necessary to stabilize the Earth’s climate, but they aren’t enough.
Natural climate solutions are necessary to stabilize the Earth’s climate, but they are not enough to achieve Paris targets, a new paper in Science suggests. Mitigation efforts in energy and industry are absolutely essential.
A 10-year delay in emissions reductions could result in changes that negate all the benefits of natural climate solutions, warns the team of climate scientists from top global universities together with experts from the World Wildlife Fund.
Natural climate solutions such as afforestation, urban green areas or sustainable agriculture are a no-regrets and low-risk strategy to deal with emissions. But they are only part of the story. They deal with consequences, increase carbon absorption and help us adapt to climate change. Natural solutions do nothing about the source of the problem. And while hopes are high for them to help us avoid riskier approaches such as negative emission technologies, we still have to deal with the harsh legacy of the carbon-intensive industry.
Thus, a global transition to a clean and sustainable economy is a must. A wide-scale implementation of natural solutions paired with rapid decarbonization is the best scenario we can hope for, the team suggests. “By maximizing natural climate solutions and energy mitigation, we can improve forests and habitat, reduce the risk of wildfires, and decrease air and water pollution, thus improving human health and well-being as well as the health of our planet,” says Christa M. Anderson, lead author of the paper and expert at the World Wildlife Fund.
Chris Field from Stanford University emphasizes that climate solutions should not be seen as a way to decrease the urgency of decarbonization. They are here to help us better cope with what comes ahead, but they won’t make any sense if we don’t avert the massive future damage we are currently heading towards.
And though researchers acknowledge that we have come to a point of no return and won’t be having the benign and friendly climate humanity have long enjoyed, we can still keep Earth a habitable place for generations to come. But to achieve this, we really need to act now.