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Cressey News

November 16, 2022

Can Nature Be Our Climate Defender? Adaptive Strategies Lead To A Sustainable Future Where People And Nature Thrive

Forbes | November 16, 2022

Bill Frist, Contributor

Friday, November 18th marks the final day of COP27 – the United Nations 27th annual Climate Change conference. Each year this conference convenes leaders from nearly 200 nations. And each year, the stakes are higher.

This year seems especially poignant. The global community is under tremendous pressure to achieve the goals outlined in COP21’s Paris Agreement where nations pledged to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Since then, nations have been working to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to protect the health of our environment, natural resources, and people.

Reducing emissions alone, though, will not be enough. Indeed, we will not be able meet our climate action goals without also transitioning to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources and doubling down on investing in nature.

Nature-centric solutions – such as restoring, protecting, and managing our lands and wetlands — allow our natural environment to be our climate defender. This is better for the health of our ecosystems, our communities, and our planet. It is also a core value of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the world’s largest conservation organization dedicated to creating a future where people and nature thrive.

While global discussions and negotiations underway at COP27 are critical, we are increasingly seeing the pivotal role that action- and solution-oriented organizations – like TNC, whose Global Board I chair — and local communities can play in achieving our climate benchmarks. Our warming planet is a globally shared burden, but it can also simultaneously be a narrative of community and innovation.

TNC prioritizes people, community, and nature positive solutions, understanding that we cannot have healthy communities and healthy people without a healthy planet. The topic of climate change is often unnecessarily divisive. But protecting nature and our natural resources should be an issue that brings us together as we find adaptive solutions to our emerging climate problems. This is where TNC steps in.

The work being done by TNC in communities all over the world (we have programs in 77 countries) protects and restores vital ecosystems and natural resources. This framework can – and should — be one of our best assets in tackling our climate action plan. In fact, experts at TNC estimate that one-third of our target emission reductions could be achieved simply by prioritizing nature-based solutions such as renewable energy, regenerative agriculture and rehabilitating ecosystems.

Here’s how:

Clean Energy: Implementing and accelerating cleaner, greener, and more sustainable energy sources are necessary to curbing our greenhouse gas emissions. TNC estimates suggest that the global community requires 9-times our current renewable energy production to meet climate goals. While this requires swift action, we need to ensure that our renewable energy transition is done smartly, being conscious of the large land-use footprint, such as with large-scale wind and solar installations.

Domestically, we are already seeing an expansion of our clean energy infrastructure as legislation passed earlier this year invested $370 billion to transition the U.S. away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner energy sources like wind, solar and nuclear power. TNC is playing an active role in planning for innovative energy solutions so that nature is safeguarded while climate, biodiversity, and community goals are jointly achieved.

Regenerative Agriculture: A recent UN report stated that more than one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to the food sector. It also accounts for a shocking 80% of land-use change and 70% of water use globally. Rightly, global agriculture and food production are garnering a lot of attention at this year’s COP27 as we prioritize updating to more sustainable and environmentally conscious food systems.

Regenerative agriculture helps to create a food system and agriculture business that restores our planet instead of degrading it. As such, it is one of the leading climate adaptive solutions that TNC is advocating for within the food sector. Regenerative practices allow food systems to produce food while also restoring habitats, protecting biodiversity, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And, they do all of this while preserving the livelihoods of the farmers, fishers, ranchers, and all those involved in the food production process.

Restoring Nature: Nature can play a crucial role in creating a more sustainable future. By focusing on environmental stewardship and supporting biodiversity and protection of our lands and wetlands, we can exceed our decarbonization goals in a way that promotes economic and community prosperity. TNC prioritizes adaptive, nature focused strategies like protecting, managing, and restoring lands and wetlands to help combat climate change and make our local communities more resilient in the process. For example, if coastal wetlands were restored to their level of health in 1990, they would have the potential to increase annual carbon sequestration at a rate that would offset the burning of more than 2 billion barrels of oil. Just one example of how nature is an underutilized tool!

Investing In Nature Positive Solutions

While the climate commitments that have been made over the past two weeks are necessary, they will also require substantial funding to lead to long-term impact. Innovative financial tools separate TNC from other environmentally-focused groups. This can be seen in the debt swaps that TNC helped negotiate in Belize as well as in TNC’s continued advocacy for carbon markets to unblock funding sources.

Sustainable financing is also a common theme in TNC’s own climate solutions. When it comes to clean energy, regenerative agriculture, and restoring nature, TNC prioritizes cost-effective solutions that allow people and nature to thrive.

For example, cleaner energy models require a large renewable energy infrastructure – making the transition costly upfront. But TNC is already working with experts and local communities to devise key insight on where best to locate renewable energy structures to mitigate cost and maximize community benefit. Further, in regenerative agriculture, TNC works with the private sector - from global traders, companies and banks - to offer attractive long-term financing opportunities to farmers making the transition to different modes of food production more enticing and spurring innovation.

Climate change is accelerating. Already, we are seeing a decline in natural resources as energy and agricultural crises grow. As temperatures rise, so do the prices of energy and food. Each day, we lose the equivalent of about 18 soccer fields of nature – lands and waters that are critical for people and nature to survive.

As COP27 comes to an end, we find ourselves looking for adaptive and innovative solutions that allow us to combat our climate crises while protecting the livelihoods of people and nature. Together, let’s prioritize and invest in nature and make our communities and planet more resilient. Let’s call for inspired leadership, and let’s demand action.

Full Article Posted on Forbes