Nature itself can gift us more than a third of the carbon emissions reductions that are needed to meet the Paris Climate Agreement. Previous estimates had put the figure as low as 7%. This is a revelation, brought about by a collaboration of fifteen organisations including Wetlands International.
Thanks in part to our input, the study, led by The Nature Conservancy, takes account of more types of natural environment than the typical approaches, which have tended to look just at forests or grasslands. That had meant missing out on the huge carbon-storage offered by wetlands, as the new study reports:
Wetlands are less extensive than agricultural or forest lands, covering 0.7-0.9 billion hectares or 4%-6% of the land surface of the Earth, but they hold the most carbon per hectare and offer 14% of potential cost-effective natural climate solutions.
The Nature Conservancy also suggests how to access these low-cost solutions:
Avoiding the draining and conversion of peatlands is the largest of these opportunities… approximately 780,000 hectares are lost globally each year, in particular for palm oil cultivation. The researchers found that their protection could secure a store of 678 million tonnes of carbon emissions equivalent a year by 2030—comparable to removing 145 million cars from the streets.
The knowledge and practice of how to safeguard and restore peatlands is available thanks to Wetlands International’s pioneering work in Indonesia and Russia. The models we have developed there reintroduce water to the peatlands not only to store carbon but also to benefit people and nature.
They are ready to be expanded to the dozens of other countries that have peatlands.
The Nature Conservancy’s study points out that to get the most climate change benefit, wetlands and other habitats need to be safeguarded and restored within the next ten to 15 years. That way, nature can put us on a path to keep the global temperature increase within 2° C by 2030.
More information about restoring peatlands in Russia.