More trees, better farming may slash emissions

DairyNZ senior adviser Kara Lok

DairyNZ senior adviser Kara Lok

"If we are serious about climate change, then we are going to have to get serious about investing in nature", said Mark Tercek, chief executive officer of The Nature Conservancy, which led the study.

Without cost constraints, natural climate solutions could deliver emissions reductions of 23.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, close to a third (30%) more than previous estimated.

At present, land use contributes about a quarter of the planet's carbon emissions, the leading greenhouse gas that causes the planet to warm up. The way we managed the lands in the future could deliver 37 percent of the solution to climate change.

Climate change could endanger the production of food crops such as corn, wheat, rice and soybeans even as the global population increases will increase demand, he said.

According to researchers, the biggest way to slow down climate change is by planting more trees and stopping deforestation, since trees absorb large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.

"This new study shows how we can massively increase action on land use, in tandem with increased action on energy, transport, finance, industry and infrastructure, to put emissions on their downward trajectory by 2020. Simultaneously they can boost job creation and protect communities in developed and developing countries", she said.

The planting of forests and other activities that can control the forces of nature can play an important role in curbing global warming under the Paris 2015 agreement, according to an worldwide study on Monday. That makes forests, from the Amazon to Siberia, vast natural stores of greenhouse gases.

Next in line is changing farming practices, which could "cost-effectively deliver 22 percent of emissions reductions according to the study, equivalent to taking 522 million gasoline cars off the road".

While wetlands covered a small portion of land surface on earth they held the most carbon per hectare and had great potential as cost-effective natural climate solutions.

Finally, experts urge the conservation of wetlands and a halt to the draining of peatlands, which hold about one quarter of the carbon stored by the world's soils.

Overall better natural management could prevent 11.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions for a year by 2030, which is equivalent to fossil fuel gas emissions in China.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and water on which all life depends.

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