Harnessing the power of nature in the fight against climate change

Climate Change UN Environmen 2018

Anssi Kullberg
Afghanistan is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the impacts of climate change.

This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Florian Reber, Strategy Lead, South Pole

If we are to solve our global climate and development challenges, we will need nature’s help. Healthy forests, soils and mangroves are not only important allies for addressing our global food security conundrum, they are also critical carbon sinks: storing CO2 is their daily business. New research suggests that up to 37% of the vast emission reductions required by 2030 if we are to give ourselves a chance of avoiding dangerous and costly climate change in the long-term could be delivered by these natural climate champions.

Meanwhile, our dominant growth and development paradigm continues to degrade them at alarming rates: the Amazon is at risk of becoming a savannah if deforestation is not halted, a third of all arable land has been lost over the past 40 years, and 67% of all mangroves are now lost or degraded according to IUCN.

The recent heatwave has shown how vulnerable those ecosystems are, with burning forests, bleached coral reefs and dried out riverbeds making the headlines. Despite the media attention, transformative action to turn the tide from degradation to restoration and protection is still not happening fast enough. Yes, important progress has been made, including numerous companies making ambitious and far-reaching commitments at the board-level. But it’s the implementation of those commitments which are most challenging.

Those who take action often also see the opportunities this presents as well as the risks. Indeed, a recent study found that the restoration of degraded lands and the valuation of forest ecosystem services are among the biggest sustainable development investment opportunities in the food and agriculture sector, together accounting for up $450 billion by 2030. The realization of these opportunities obviously requires much more than commitment. Here are four positive developments that suggest a move to broader, more systemic change.

 Natural climate solutions have a huge role to play in mitigating CO2 emissions

Natural climate solutions have a huge role to play in mitigating CO2 emissions
Image: The Nature Conservancy

Shared agendas across the public and private sectors

The proliferation of international initiatives and high-level dialogues across both public and private sectors is facilitating the emergence of shared agendas. This is crucial, as realising sustainable land use and harnessing the natural climate solutions it offers is a complex social and governance challenge. Creating the necessary trust across communities, governments and the private sector requires dialogue – and time. Platforms such as the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 or the Food and Land Use Coalition offer the space for crafting such shared action-oriented agendas, anchored in a shared vision for sustainable development outcomes.

New accounting and reporting standards

Boosted by the zero-deforestation agenda and in recognition of the important climate impact of agricultural supply chains, companies have made significant commitments to reducing emissions within their supply chains, including land and forest-related emissions. The leadership of those companies has catalysed innovation and impacts on various fronts, including much-needed new accounting standards for credibly measuring, attributing and reporting the achieved emission reductions. The work led by the Gold Standard and a coalition of companies and technical experts to develop new Guidance for Value Chain Greenhouse Gas Accounting and Reporting is an important step towards creating the required level playing field.

Carbon markets are on the rise again

As a consequence of the voluntary commitments and new compliance markets, such as the one launched in Colombia recently, carbon market activity is increasing dramatically. From 2016 to 2017, the retirement of voluntary carbon offsets increased by 71% to reach a new record saving of 62.7 million tonnes of CO2. Among those, land use and forestry based carbon offsets are among the most sought after in the market.

These figures point to the attractiveness of forest and land-based carbon offsets to voluntary and pre-compliance buyers alike. To keep up the momentum, feeding the potential of carbon markets in the above-mentioned programmes for landscape-level sustainability is a good opportunity for harnessing the potential of this growing market.

More data for investors looking to understand risks

Last but not least, the financial sector has woken up to the risk that climate change, shifting market preferences and climate policies can negatively impact the value of land-based assets – potentially even leading to asset stranding in some cases. The recommendations of the Task-Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure have played an important role in catalysing innovation on this topic. Today, climate leaders within the financial sector are applying scenario-based climate risk assessments across sectors and geographies. This improved understanding of at-risk assets is critical for shifting capital towards activities that support sustainable land use.

In Ernest Hemingway’s book The Sun Also Rises, the character Mike Campbell is asked how he went bankrupt: “Gradually, then suddenly,” he replies. The quote is often used in relation to looming tipping points. It feels like we are now at a critically important moment in time, where we need collective and individual will and leadership to harness the opportunities that have emerged. Doing so could help 2018 be remembered not just as the year when climate impacts became visible to masses of people around the world, but also as the year when climate action went mainstream.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

A Sting Exclusive: China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on South China Sea issue at the ASEAN Regional Forum

EU and China resolve amicably solar panel trade dispute

Threats from mammoth banks and Brussels fuel May’s poll rates

IMF: World cup and productivity

Apple’s tax avoidance scheme remains as creative as their new iPhone

How Europe beat the financial crisis – and the risks it still faces

EU budget: Making the EU fit for its role as strong global actor

MWC 2016 LIVE: 5G to trigger disruption, claim industry leaders

Respect for fundamental rights and freedoms key for peaceful polls in DRC – UN mission chief

Ukraine turns again to the EU for more money

We lack a global framework for saving our environment. Here’s how we change that

TTIP update: postponed vote and INTA meeting shuffle cards again

Arlington, USA: kick-off of the fifth round of the EU-US boxing match

Ambassador Zhang wishes from Brussels great success and prosperity for the China-EU relations in the Year of the Dog

Camino de Santiago – a global community on our doorstep

EU Leaders’ meeting in Sofia: Completing a trusted Digital Single Market for the benefit of all

European Parliament and Eurovision sign partnership for European Elections

Cloud computing under scrutiny in the EU?

The hidden cost of the electric car boom – child labour

Cyprus banks under scrutiny

This robot has soft hands. It could be the future of sustainable production

“They are trying to make improvements, but of course they are quite slow for my generation”, Vice President of JADE Victor Soto on another Sting Exclusive

JADE Handover Ceremony at the European Parliement

MWC 2016 LIVE: Gamelab founder talks Apple TV, VR and monetisation

Turkey to let EU alone struggle with the migrant crisis while enhancing its economic ties with Russia instead?

More solidarity and interaction between generations needed to challenge age stereotypes and ingrained ageism

Deep chasm still divides Athens and Brussels; can Eurozone use the nuclear arm of liquidity against Greece?

What makes Copenhagen the world’s most bike-friendly city?

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: UNFCCC Secretariat Launches Forest Information Hub

It’s not summer holidays what lead to the bad August of the German economy

Norway initiates WTO dispute complaint against US steel, aluminium duties

Norway is known for its cold weather – but it’s been in the grip of a severe heatwave

Why exchange programs are essential for the medical students of the 21st century

The West definitively cuts Russia off from the developed world

5 surprising ways digital technology is changing childhood

Governments can fight corruption by joining the digital payment revolution

They won this year’s Nobel for economics. Here’s why their work matters

The Ecofin Council creates officially the clan of ‘undead’ banks

“The markets have moved on renewables, policy makers must keep up”, A Sting Exclusive by Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment

New phenomena in the EU labour market

Yellen and Draghi tell Trump and markets not to expedite the next crisis

EU-China relations under investigation?

MEPs back update of rail passenger rights across EU

On World Day to Combat Desertification, UN shines spotlight on ‘true value’ of land

UN chief praises Malaysia’s death penalty repeal as ‘major step forward’

“C’est la vie”? French recession and unemployment to linger in Eurozone

Statement by Cecilia Malmström, Member of the EC in charge of Trade, on the successful conclusion of the final discussions on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) – Brussels, 08 Dec 2017. (Copyright: European Union; Source: EC - Audiovisual Service; Photo: Georges Boulougouris)

The EU and Japan seal free trade pact that will cover 30% of global GDP

The challenges of Chinese investment in Latin America

The Sting’s Values

Chauvinism and xenophobia will lead to global assertiveness and more wars

Politics still matter in the US but not in Europe

Disintegrating Tories will void May’s pledge for Brexit deal in seven weeks

The Sting’s Team

What are the real targets of EU’s efforts to fight tax evasion?

Donald Trump’s victory is a great opening for global EU leadership on the sustainability agenda

Data capture, not disclosure, is the way to meet our climate goals

Will Brexit shatter the EU or is it still too early to predict?

MWC 2016 LIVE: Freemium MVNO model a success, claims FreedomPop head

CHALLENGING THE ZEITGEIST OF DIGITAL – Change making projects innovate mobile support for refugees, inclusive environments, early breast cancer detection and more

The Franco-German axis considers that all EU needs now is more armaments

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s