A new policy perspective published in Science by researchers at seven prestigious institutions looked at the role of natural science solutions in stabilizing the Earth’s climate for people and ecosystems. While they asserted that it is imperative to ramp up natural climate solutions, they also concluded that natural solutions alone will not be sufficient.
Natural science solutions include such things as enhancing carbon sinks from forests, agriculture and other lands. Doing these things are very beneficial in their own right as they lead to improved forests, croplands, grazing lands, and wetlands.
However, these things will not be enough to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and must be combined with rapid efforts to decrease emissions from the energy and industrial sectors. Among their various findings, the researchers warn that a ten-year delay in emissions reductions from these sectors could completely negate any potential benefits of natural climate solutions.
As has become increasingly clear, there is not an either-or situation with regard to the actions that need to be taken with respect to climate change.
Maximizing natural climate solutions and reducing emissions from the energy and industrial sectors will provide broad benefits beyond climate change mitigation. Doing these things will improve forests and habitats, reduce the risk of wildfires, and decrease air and water pollution thereby improving human health and well-being.
Of course, to reduce cumulative emissions and put a cap on the warming of the planet, there will need to be policy mechanisms and incentives in place that support both natural climate solutions and increasing mitigation efforts across the energy and industrial sectors.
Photo, posted February 11, 2012, courtesy of Joao Andre O. Dias via Flickr.