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Photo of forests, mountains and hills in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, all in fall color.
Natural Climate Solutions Fall In the Blue Ridge Mountains above Johns River Gorge in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. © Ranses  Castillo/TNC Photo Contest 2021

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New Study Shows Natural Climate Solutions Essential to Preventing Catastrophic Global Warming

Private markets are a primary driver of emissions reductions, but markets alone cannot limit warming to 1.5° Celsius

A new report published by Epic Institute and The Nature Conservancy makes the case that the private sector, with ongoing public support, will be a primary driver in achieving the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) goal to limit warming to 1.5°C. Yet, despite the tremendous promise of emissions reduction at the market’s current speed, a gap remains to achieving the target emissions pathway set forth by the IPCC.

Positive Disruption: Roadmap With Nature to 1.5°C

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Epic Institute’s modeling shows that closing this gap will require accelerating negative emissions from proven natural climate solutions (NCS) between now and 2030. The estimated global cost of this NCS acceleration would be $3 trillion by 2030 ($14 trillion by 2060) –– a fraction of the cost of achieving the same negative emissions from engineered carbon removal, which is estimated at $14 trillion by 2030 ($72 trillion by 2060), assuming learning curve cost reductions. 

Natural climate solutions are ready to deploy at costs that are currently much lower than engineered carbon removal.

Executive Director, and Chief Technology Officer of Epic Institute

The far lower costs of NCS, with solutions ready to deploy at scale, are also meaningfully offset by a wide range of co-benefits, including soil health, food nutrient density, reduced toxic chemicals in the environment, more climate resilient agriculture, habitat restoration and sustained biodiversity. By comparison, engineered carbon dioxide removal involves nascent and energy-intensive technologies, with minimal offsetting co-benefits.

“If we are to achieve the 2030 IPCC target, the world must act quickly to advance negative emissions, alongside supporting the steep reductions in fossil fuel emissions now being driven by markets,” said Tom Dinwoodie, Co-Founder, Executive Director, and Chief Technology Officer of Epic Institute. “Natural climate solutions are ready to deploy at costs that are currently much lower than engineered carbon removal. Without such investment, the world will see more frequent deadly heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and flooding, along with further species extinction.”

The authors recommend that priority be given to working alongside nature to achieve the needed negative emissions, and monitoring the results closely, using data to make clear whether and where these efforts are falling short. This strategy would enable course corrections along the way, perhaps then calling for scaled deployment of engineered solutions, which should be supported through research, design, and development in parallel with the NCS deployment.

Download the full the report.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.