Natural systems provide obvious but often forgotten solutions: in addition to forests, habitats such as wetlands and grasslands can absorb and store enormous amounts of carbon.

This is about changing the conversation around climate change solutions. Decarbonizing the energy sector is critical and it is encouraging that the renewable energy sector is now attracting some $300 billion of capital each year. But it is insufficient on its own. We can’t get to a 2 or 1.5 degree Celsius stabilization pathway without taking land use more seriously. Indeed, it is the only sector that can switch from being a net source of carbon to a net sink. For us to reach a 2 degree world, we must optimize land use through smart land management decisions. The renewables sector scaled up with a mixture of developments in public policy, business models, technology, and finance. The land sector can scale up too, with this same approach.

This also requires changing how we think about land use. Resistance to rethinking land use practices is often based on several beliefs: restoration is “too expensive”, changing land use is “too difficult”, and returns will take “too much time”. But actually, these beliefs are misconceptions. Dozens of cases have disproven our beliefs around changing land use: The Nature Conservancy has been closely involved in such successes from Indonesia to China, Africa, the U.S., and Brazil, where we are also exploring new business models that can be scaled up in the land sector.

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Date: 2016-09-22

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