Forests, carbon sinks, cannot make up for delays in decarbonizing the economy: study

February 28, 2019, World Wildlife Fund
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

To stabilize the Earth's climate for people and ecosystems, it is imperative to ramp up natural climate solutions and, at the same time, accelerate mitigation efforts across the energy and industrial sectors, according to a new policy perspective published today in Science. Among their findings, the researchers warn that a ten-year delay in emissions reductions from energy and industry could this century result in emissions that negate the net potential emissions reductions benefit of natural climate solutions.

Natural climate solutions —such as enhancing carbon sinks from forests, agriculture and other lands—come with a host of benefits like improved forests, croplands, grazing lands, and wetlands. The paper, co-authored by scientists and climate experts at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Columbia University, Kepos Capital, Princeton University, University of Aberdeen, Stanford University, and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), underscores that natural climate solutions alone are not enough to meet the Paris Agreement and must be paired with rapid efforts to decrease emissions from the energy and industrial sectors.

"This is not an either-or situation. We need to be actively pursuing all possible solutions in all possible places," said co-author Christopher B. Field, a climate scientist who directs the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. "Even ambitious deployment of natural climate solutions leaves a big gap that needs to be filled through increased work on decreasing emissions from cars, factories, and powerplants."

"By maximizing natural climate solutions and energy mitigation, we can improve forests and habitat, reduce the risk of wildfires, and decrease air and , thus improving and well-being as well as the health of our planet," said Christa M. Anderson, lead author and research fellow with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

To reduce cumulative emissions and peak warming, the policy paper underscores that the solution will require policy mechanisms and incentives that support natural climate solutions and a major increase in across the energy and industrial sectors.

The article, Natural Climate Solutions Are Note Enough, appears in the March 1 edition of Science.

Explore further: State-of-the-art climate model shows how we can solve crisis

More information: "Natural climate solutions are not enough" Science (2019). science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi … 1126/science.aaw2741

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Ken_Fabian
5 / 5 (1) Feb 28, 2019
Not a surprise to me - seems like reforestation will struggle to draw down as much carbon as got released by the prior deforestation. All that fossil fuel burning as well far exceeds it's capacity as a carbon sink. And the largest forests often became the most prized agricultural land. We won't see much of that turned back to forests, rather, only marginal land will be used, with even less potential for taking up Carbon Dioxide. Raising levels of soil carbon in agricultural land helps a bit too, but too little.

There aren't any quick fix/silver bullets - reducing emissions by transition to low emissions energy alternatives is still the most effective, least cost and most enduring solution.
grandpa
1 / 5 (1) Mar 01, 2019
Of course they can't, but they will help. The earth needs to get the dioxide level up. 500 to 600 would be a good number. Otherwise we were heading for ice ball earth. The earth was in an unstable phase with such low carbon dioxide levels.
rrwillsj
not rated yet Mar 01, 2019
It's going to take a number of different solutions to moderate the excesses of Anthropospecific Augmentation to Global Climate Change.

Big efforts & little efforts. We need a Federal goverbnent of rational patriots. Who put resolving the looming crisis. Ahead of the reactionary greed to waste resources. Including Human resources.

Big problems need a stable commitment to Big Funding.
The United States use to do that on a regular basis since it's inception.

But, now, today? The fake conservatives & false libertarians embrace the kleptocracy of fascism.

Those boasting of their patriotism & evangelical fervor, are active quislings & copperheads.

"Conservative" is an action, a personal commitment to accepting the responsibilities of Civic Virtue.

"Conservative" is not an empty political slogan to be abused as a license to commit depraved vices & sordid treason.

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