“Ageo-engineering solution, but without any of the risk.” That’s how Jeff Seabright, Unilever’s Chief Sustainability Officer, described nature’s role in carbon mitigation at the Business & Climate Summit 2016 in London.
We all know meeting the world’s new commitment to limit global warming below 2 degrees C is going to be an uphill climb. And we all know we won’t get there without shifting global energy use to near zero emissions levels by mid-century. But, what many still don’t understand is that even with the needed energy shift, we still won’t get there without also maximizing nature’s carbon storage capability. Indeed, as we sit here today, nature is the sleeping giant in solving climate change.
Nature’s time is now
In particular, nature’s set of solutions are uniquely positioned to help us dramatically reduce the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide during the next 15 years, as we continue to solve for longer-term energy transformation. All told, nature-based solutions for sequestering carbon, such as avoiding forest loss, reforestation, investing in soil health and coastal ecosystem restoration, can bring us more than a third of the way to emission reductions needed by 2030. A biological bridge to a zero carbon future.
This opportunity is significantly larger than we previously imagined. And, crucially, many of the options come at a substantially lower cost — less than $10 per tonne of carbon dioxide — than higher tech sequestration solutions that run $100 per tonne and beyond. But nature’s vast potential today is not the only cause for urgency. The threat to nature’s continued potential is the other side of the same coin: the less we harness today, the less we will be able to harness tomorrow…”