International organizations launch initiative to promote natural climate solutions

By Dave McGlinchey

Six leading international organizations–including WHRC–launched an initiative this week calling for concerted action to make better use of forests, soils, and wetlands in addressing climate change.

The initiative, called Nature4Climate, is a partnership between WHRC, the United Nations Development Programme, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the World Resources Institute.

“There is no feasible way to stay under 2°C of warming without significant removal of CO2 from the atmosphere,” said WHRC President Dr. Phil Duffy. “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.”

Last year a prominent study found that the land sector contributes a quarter of total greenhouse gas emissions, but could deliver 37 percent of the greenhouse gas reductions required by 2030 to keep global warming below 2 degrees. WHRC scientists Dr. Richard Houghton and Dr. Jonathan Sanderman were co-authors on the paper.

Despite that climate mitigation potential, however, just 38 out of the 160 governments who signed the Paris agreement have specific targets for the sector. Natural climate solutions only receive 3 percent of public mitigation finance.

“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,” said Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy, in a press release. “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.”

The Nature4Climate partners will work over the next five years with national and subnational governments, and with business groups at global and national levels, to increase policy action and investment on natural climate solutions. Their first initiative is to call for commitments from subnational governments and businesses to back the 30X30 Forests, Food and Land Challenge at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco this September.

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