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Natural climate solutions

OPEN Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | 29 Oct 2017

BW Griscom, J Adams, PW Ellis, RA Houghton, G Lomax, DA Miteva, WH Schlesinger, D Shoch, JV Siikamäki, P Smith, P Woodbury, C Zganjar, A Blackman, J Campari, RT Conant, C Delgado, P Elias, T Gopalakrishna, MR Hamsik, M Herrero, J Kiesecker, E Landis, L Laestadius, SM Leavitt, S Minnemeyer, S Polasky, P Potapov, FE Putz, J Sanderman, M Silvius, E Wollenberg and J Fargione
Abstract
Better stewardship of land is needed to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement goal of holding warming to below 2 °C; however, confusion persists about the specific set of land stewardship options available and their mitigation potential. To address this, we identify and quantify “natural climate solutions” (NCS): 20 conservation, restoration, and improved land management actions that increase carbon storage and/or avoid greenhouse gas emissions across global forests, wetlands, grasslands, and agricultural lands. We find that the maximum potential of NCS-when constrained by food security, fiber security, and biodiversity conservation-is 23.8 petagrams of CO2 equivalent (PgCO2e) y(-1) (95% CI 20.3-37.4). This is ≥30% higher than prior estimates, which did not include the full range of options and safeguards considered here. About half of this maximum (11.3 PgCO2e y(-1)) represents cost-effective climate mitigation, assuming the social cost of CO2 pollution is ≥100 USD MgCO2e(-1) by 2030. Natural climate solutions can provide 37% of cost-effective CO2 mitigation needed through 2030 for a >66% chance of holding warming to below 2 °C. One-third of this cost-effective NCS mitigation can be delivered at or below 10 USD MgCO2(-1) Most NCS actions-if effectively implemented-also offer water filtration, flood buffering, soil health, biodiversity habitat, and enhanced climate resilience. Work remains to better constrain uncertainty of NCS mitigation estimates. Nevertheless, existing knowledge reported here provides a robust basis for immediate global action to improve ecosystem stewardship as a major solution to climate change.
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Concepts
Emission standard, Agriculture, Ecosystem, Global warming potential, Climate change, Global warming, Carbon dioxide, Greenhouse gas
MeSH headings
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