The Paris Agreement helped steer nations around the world away from a carbon cliff. But a paper in the journal Science Advances argues it will be a dead end unless nations also preserve Earth's ecosystems.
Saving the world from catastrophic climate change means sparing its species from mass extinction; so says the Global Deal for Nature, a roadmap for conserving at least half the Earth's land as intact ecosystems that can double as carbon sinks.
Co-author Gregory Asner of Arizona State University says preservation is essential to meeting carbon goals — and to stabilizing vital, interconnected ecosystems.
"An ideal outcome of this would be that this discussion is elevated to a Paris Agreement level, so that we're not just talking about carbon and climate, we're talking about biodiversity, carbon and climate as a three-way, connected effort," he said.
Asner adds it's far easier to save ecosystems from falling apart than to put them back together.
Moreover, natural ecosystems — such as mangroves, peatlands, rainforests, tundra and ancient grasslands — provide a cheaper, faster solution to carbon removal and sequestration because they already exist.
Prior research shows that escaping 1.5 C warming or worse will require a rapid decrease in land conversion, and calls for a possible freeze by 2035.
According to the paper, "65 percent of Paris Agreement signatories have committed to restoring or conserving ecosystems."