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Natural climate solutions for 1.5 C

Keeping global heating under 1.5°C requires cutting climate pollution essentially to zero as soon as feasible, while restoring the Earth’s forests and other living systems to remove and store carbon from the atmosphere. These safe natural solution to regenerate ecosystems are different from dangerous “geoengineering” technologies, which risk more harm to people and nature. 


Achieving 1.5°C requires rapid and far-reaching action

  • Many scientists, social movements, and over 100 governments consider 1.5°C the threshold between dangerous and very dangerous climate change. 

  • Keeping warming below this level requires radical emission reductions now, as well as natural solutions to preserve living systems, such as forests and other natural stores of carbon.


Full decarbonisation requires radical emission reductions now

  • Globally, climate pollution must be reduced essentially to zero as soon as feasible.

  • Developed countries will need to achieve this target earlier, due to historically higher emissions. 

  • Achieving this requires a global transition, including a transition to 100% renewable energy. 

  • This transition must be just and equitable for the most vulnerable and impacted people, providing low-carbon sustainable development pathways. 


Natural solutions will also be needed to remove some emissions

  • As well as full decarbonisation, some level of emissions will need to be drawn out of the atmosphere, to help get atmospheric concentrations down from 400+ppm towards 350ppm. 

  • These withdrawals are needed to compensate for some emissions that we cannot avoid (e.g. for food production), and to reduce the risks of crossing catastrophic tipping points. 

  • The best and safest way to accomplish these negative emissions is restoring natural ecosystems. 

  • Natural solutions, like allowing natural forests to grow old and restoring degraded forests and peatland, have the highest potential. 

  • These approaches can protect living systems, capture greenhouse gasses, and support communities – improving lives, and addressing the extinction and climate crises. 


Natural solutions are different from geo-engineering

  • The potential for natural solutions is significant; but it is not unlimited. It is not sufficient to compensate for or justify continued fossil fuel use and other greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Natural solutions should not be confused with proposals for massive land-based removals and unproven, risky technologies such as Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS).

  •  Proposals for these much larger-scale “carbon dioxide removal” technologies are dangerous as: 

    • They have no track record and will likely not work. 

    • Expectations of future technologies are unrealistic.

    • Approaches requiring major land use changes threaten communities and risk land grabs.

    • They threaten food production and biodiversity.

    • They open the door for even riskier geo-engineering approaches. 


Emission reductions and natural solutions are key

  • Protection and restoration of natural ecosystems is part of a pathway for keeping global temperature rises to under 1.5°C and avoiding climate breakdown. 

  • Together with rapid phase out of fossil fuel emissions, natural solutions add to our chance of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C, and counter efforts to promote dangerous and unproven geo-engineering. 

  • These actions must take place in addition to immediate and ambitious action in the industrial and energy sectors. 


For more information see: 
Paris Climate Justice Briefs, Long-term Global Goal
Geoengineering Monitor

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