Nature is often overlooked when it comes to climate solutions, said Monica Medina, Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. “We believe that nature-based solutions offer the most efficient, effective and flexible way to address the twin crises of climate change and of course, biodiversity loss.”
“Ecosystems, both on land and in the ocean are currently and will remain the best carbon storage system we have. There's nothing more efficient or effective.”
“We know that nature based solutions, just the ones on land, are capable of providing at least a third of the emissions reductions that we need to keep 1.5 [degree temperature reduction] alive. … The time is now to start to harness the power of nature to help us sequester more carbon, stabilize climate cycles, adapt to climate impacts, and host the universe of species on which we depend.”
There is far more to harnessing nature to help mitigate climate change than just planting more trees. “As forest conservation, restoration, and adaptation generate broad benefits related to climate change and other areas, other nature-based solutions can advance multiple benefits,” said Assistant Secretary Medina.
“Many of these solutions are overlooked. Mangroves-- people don't think of those as trees or as a carbon sink, but they are a huge carbon sink and they provide important habitat for threatened and endangered species, provide flood protection and food protection, food security, by creating the necessary conditions for coastal ecosystems to be vibrant. We can protect coasts. Critical marine ecosystems, reduce flooding through building wetlands, moderate extreme heat, and replenish groundwater resources, capture and store carbon dioxide and all of the above, and conserve biodiversity and improve our agricultural and forest lands if we just focus on nature.”
And of course, “we are just as committed to ocean-based climate solutions,” said Assistant Secretary Medina.
“The United States is pleased to be galvanizing more ambitious action for protecting marine resources through our ocean conservation pledge, which commits the countries who are a part of that pledge to protecting at least 30% of their own ocean waters by 2030.”
“Nature is really our most important tool for conserving carbon and for preserving the natural environment on which we all need to sustain ourselves,” said Assistant Secretary Medina. “It's our best bottom line. It needs to be second nature.”