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Natural climate solutions

Natural climate solutions (NCS) strengthen the capacity of oceans, forests, grasslands, coastal vegetation, peat, and soil to act as natural sinks for carbon dioxide. They have the potential to deliver a third of the carbon dioxide mitigation needed to achieve the ambitions of the Paris Agreement by 2030.

NCS include the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of forests, grasslands, coastal vegetation, 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 the volume of forest and soil carbon stocks removing carbon from the atmosphere. Protection of coastal wetlands can conserve their carbon stocks and protect coastal areas from flooding and erosion.

A 2017 paper from the proceedings of the Natural Academy of Science on natural climate solutions said that NCS have the potential to deliver at least a third of the cost-effective carbon dioxide mitigation needed for emissions to be aligned with the goals of Paris Agreement by 2030 [1].

UN 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. These include 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.

However, there are some important differences between the two – notable on emphasis. NCS focuses on solutions that primarily focus on mitigating carbon dioxide 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] Griscom et al 2017. Natural climate solutions PNAS.

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Natural Climate Solutions

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