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Protecting climate by protecting nature

Protecting climate by protecting nature

HARIDHA P114 27-Dec-2022

One of the most urgent problems facing humanity at the moment is climate change. The repercussions of climate change are felt by nature, but this involvement goes far further. The management of the world's ecosystems will determine whether they contribute to the issue or offer practical, natural answers for resolving it. Currently, 12% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions created by humans are attributable to the loss and degradation of forests, which contribute to the climate issue. 

Almost a quarter of all worldwide emissions are caused by the land sector, which includes agriculture, forestry, and other land uses. But now that we know how to prevent these emissions, we can take practical, affordable steps to do so in the near future, such as improving land management and conservation. Additionally, repairing degraded lands and improving current ecosystems can aid in absorbing extra CO2 produced by other industries. 

For example, it has been calculated that recovering 350 million hectares of degraded or deforested landscapes by the year 2030 may sequester between one and three billion tonnes of CO2 while simultaneously producing roughly $170 billion in additional benefits from ecosystems every year. In order to significantly aid attempts to reduce global warming, nature management must be done well.

Climate solutions based on nature

Leading researchers identified and measured 20 main conservation, restoration, and enhanced land management routes that can boost carbon storage and prevent GHG emissions across global forests, wetlands, grasslands, and agricultural areas in a study released last year. Their research, titled 'Natural Climate Solutions,' revealed that these nature-based climate solutions have a greater potential than previously believed, even when they are constrained by safeguards for food and fibre security and biodiversity. 

The study also looked at the cost-effectiveness of nature-based climate solutions, or whether they could be implemented for a price that is equivalent to that of mitigating emissions from other economic sectors, like the energy, transportation, and household sectors.In order to keep global warming below 2°C between now and 2030, an estimated 37% of cost-effective mitigation will be provided by these natural climate solutions, according to the study. 

The ability of ecosystems to sequester and store carbon naturally varies. With forests accounting for nearly two thirds of all nature-based climate solutions globally, forests have the most cost-effective mitigation options of any ecosystem. Following averted deforestation and improved forest management, replanting in the forest sector has the greatest potential to slow down global warming. 

Grassland and agricultural pathways provide around 5% of the natural solutions to keep warming below 2°C, with cropland nutrient management, including tree cover in croplands, and conservation agriculture as essential practices. Despite being smaller in size than woods and grasslands, wetlands have the highest carbon storage capacity per unit of area. According to research on mangroves, for instance, their preservation is generally justified on the basis of carbon sequestration alone, even when a wide range of additional advantages are not taken into account. 

These include preserving fisheries, managing water quality, defending coastlines, and offering wood and habitat for wildlife. Ecosystems contribute to climate resilience and adaptation in addition to helping to lessen the effects of climate change. In the case of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, for instance, wetlands prevented direct flood damages of over $600 million. The value of the storm protection services offered by coastal wetlands in the US is estimated to be $23 billion.

Added advantages

In addition to helping the climate, the majority of natural climate solutions also provide a variety of other advantages, including as habitat for biodiversity, water filtering, flood control, soil health, and livelihood support. They can be obtained soon by better management and conservation of nature, just like the benefits that nature provides for the climate.

The Paris Agreement, which was ratified by 195 nations as well as the EU in December 2015, made it abundantly obvious how very important the world's ecosystems are to attaining climate neutrality over the course of this century. In order to fully utilise their potential for mitigation, the Agreement specifically requests that countries maintain and improve all natural carbon sinks and reservoirs, including biomass, forests, oceans, and other terrestrial, coastal, and marine ecosystems.

A passionate writer, blogger, language trainer, co-author of the book 'Irenic' and an enthusiastic learner. Interest includes travelling places and exploring.

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