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The natural fix? The role of ecosystems in climate mitigation - How to make agriculture carbon neutral by 2030?

  • Trumper, K.
  • Jenkins, M.
  • Bertzky, M.
  • Dickson, B.
  • Heijden, G. v.
  • Manning, P.

This report presents a rapid assessment of current carbon capture and storage through a green economy lens, outlining the potential in terms of natural systems. The report underlines a far greater potential across a wider suite of natural systems. Indeed, it is a potential to not only combat climate change and climate-proof vulnerable economies, but to accelerate sustainable development and the achievement of the poverty-related Millennium Development Goals.

The report indicates that vigorous efforts are needed to reverse the current trend of greenhouse gas emission. However, it thinks that doing so will be impossible without addressing carbon losses from ecosystems such as forests and peat-lands. The report states that a challenging but achievable goal is to make agriculture carbon neutral by 2030. Currently, this natural fix is the only feasible option for removing carbon from the atmosphere at large.

The key messages from this report are:

  • while forests, agriculture and peat-land have been highlighted as urgent priorities, the role of other ecosystems is also important and needs to be taken into account;
  • an effective policy will need to achieve a balance between rural livelihoods and carbon management policies that may threaten those livelihoods;
  • the agricultural sector could be broadly carbon neutral by 2030 if best management practices were widely adopted;
  • it is essential that climate mitigation policy is guided by the best available science concerning ecosystem carbon, and decisions should be informed by the overall costs and benefits of carbon management;
  • dry lands, in particular, offer opportunities for combining carbon management and land restoration.

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    UNEP rapid response assessment. United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge, UK: http://www.grida.no/_res/site/file/publications/natural-fix/BioseqRRA_scr.pdf