Natural climate solutions

Natural climate solutions can complement efforts to decarbonize the energy sector.

Natural climate solutions (NCS) comprise the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of forests, grasslands, mangroves, agricultural soils, wetlands, and other ecosystems in ways that mitigate climate change and enhance climate resilience.

The restoration of forests or agricultural soils can, for example, increase forest and soil carbon stocks removing carbon from the atmosphere. As another example, the protection of coastal wetlands can protect their carbon stocks and provide coastal protection from flooding and erosion.

NCS have the potential to deliver through 2030 at least a third of the cost-effective carbon dioxide mitigation needed for emissions to be aligned with the goals of Paris Agreement [1]. IPCC scenarios lay out many paths to achieve net zero emissions and demonstrate that the inclusion of NCS allows for a faster and less costly transition for society.

NCS that ensure social and environmental integrity, while also helping protect resilience of communities to the impacts of climate change, can provide a range of other benefits for society, such as economic growth and diversification, improvement of human health and livelihood and protection of biodiversity and water resources, in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The current deployment of NCS and the inclusion of NCS in the Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement do not reflect the full potential of NCS.

Nature-based solutions and natural climate solutions: what’s the difference?

The terms natural climate solutions and nature-based solutions (NbS) are often used interchangeably and rely on the same guiding principles. The difference is one of emphasis. NCS focuses on solutions that focus primarily on carbon dioxide mitigation while trying to maximize co-benefits. NbS focus on addressing a broader range of societal challenges from food security to disaster risk, including climate change.

[1] Natural Climate Solutions, PNAS, October 2017