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Monday, November 28, 2022

Nature-based carbon removal can help protect us from a hot planet

A new study has found that temporary nature-based carbon removal can lower global warming levels, but only if supplemented by ambitious reductions in fossil fuel emissions.

Nature-based climate solutions aim to conserve and enhance carbon storage in terrestrial or aquatic ecosystems and could be a potential contributor to Canada’s climate change mitigation strategy. “However, the risk is that carbon stored in ecosystems could be lost back to the atmosphere due to wildfires, insect outbreaks, deforestation or other human activities,” said Kirsten Zickfeld, a leading professor of climate science in Simon Fraser University’s department. of Geography who are on the research team.

The researchers used a global climate model to simulate temperature change through two scenarios ranging from weak to ambitious greenhouse gas emission reductions. In the relatively weak emission reduction scenario, carbon emissions will continue until 2100. In the ambitious scenario, carbon emissions will reach net zero by 2050.

To achieve the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, the world will need to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by or before the middle of the century, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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In both scenarios, it is assumed that carbon storage by nature-based climate solutions is temporary as forests are vulnerable to both natural and human disturbances. Therefore, nature-based climate solutions are expected to extract carbon from the atmosphere over the next 30 years and then slowly release the carbon during the second half of the century.

The team found that in a scenario with carbon emissions declining rapidly to net zero, temporary nature-based carbon storage could lower the level of peak warming. However, in a scenario with continued carbon emissions, temporary nature-based carbon storage will only serve to slow down the temperature increase.

“Our study shows that nature-based carbon storage, even if temporary, can have tangible climate benefits, but only if implemented with a rapid transition to zero fossil fuel emissions,” says Zickfeld.

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The findings are published in Communication Earth and Environment.

Zickfeld is also the lead author of the recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group I Contribution to the Sixth Evaluation Report released in the summer of 2021, and the IPCC’s 2018 special report on 1.5 degrees global warming.

The researchers also note that investing in nature conservation and restoration offers social and environmental benefits to local and indigenous communities, in addition to storing carbon to mitigate climate change. They add that biodiversity, water and air quality are inherently valuable and that efforts to improve them can also help build community resilience to climate change.

Story Source:

Material provided by Simon Fraser University. Originally Posted by Melissa Shaw. Note: Content can be edited for style and length.

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