This article first appeared in Yale's Environment360 Digest.
Planting trees, restoring peatlands, and better land management could provide 37 percent of the greenhouse gas mitigation needed between now and 2030 to keep global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, according to a new study published in the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences.
The activities, known as natural climate solutions, could prevent up to 11.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide from reaching the atmosphere every year, the study reported. That would be the same as if nations stopped burning oil completely, The Nature Conservancy, which helped lead the study, said.
To achieve these greenhouse gas reductions, nations would need to engage in reforestation efforts, peatland and coastal wetland restoration, and the conversion of former agricultural land to forests, as well as protect existing forests and wetlands from future development.
These actions “also offer water filtration, flood buffering, soil health, biodiversity, and enhanced climate resilience,” the scientists wrote. “Regreening the planet through conservation, restoration, and improved land management is a necessary step for our transition to a carbon neutral global economy and a stable climate.”