If we plant enough trees, will that save the day?
Natural climate solutions mean the capture and storage of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through the conservation and restoration of soils, forests, peat bogs, and coastal ecosystems. The Bill calls for active management of these natural systems both to increase optimise their carbon dioxide uptake and to improve biodiversity, a win-win situation.
However, there are hard limits to how much carbon can be drawn down by natural climate solutions. There are no silver bullets, and it will be impossible, for example, to plant enough trees to compensate for our current emissions. New studies have shown that previous estimates of how much carbon newly planted forests absorb had been significantly overestimated. What’s more, there are new worrying signs that our existing forests are under threat, with climate change causing drying leading to fires. A recent study concluded, shockingly, that the Amazon rainforest is no longer playing its role in absorbing CO2 and has now flipped to become a net emitter of CO2.
So even though the bill encourages restoring ecosystems for both improving biodiversity and storing carbon, this must not be used as an excuse to keep burning carbon now.