The business case for protecting nature

With recent reports from IPBES and the IPCC, as well as the UK Government’s Dasgupta Review, outlining clearly the direct linkages between nature loss and climate, the business case for accelerating investment into natural climate solutions to tackle these twin crises is compelling. By Climate Champions | July 15, 2021

Actions to conserve, restore or improve the management of land and coastal ecosystems must be integral to corporate climate strategies, argues a new report from multistakeholder coalition, The Natural Climate Solutions Alliance.

Natural Climate Solutions for Corporates provides business with clear and practical guidance on how and why they need to invest in high-quality Natural Climate Solutions (NCS).

NCS are actions that help forests, wetlands, grasslands and agricultural land, for instance, increase carbon storage and/or avoid greenhouse gas emissions.

They have been estimated to support up to around one third of the required climate change mitigation for a below-2°C pathway by 2030. By investing in NCS credits alongside rapid decarbonization to neutralize or compensate for GHG emissions on the transition to net zero, the report argues that business can help scale NCS to reach this climate mitigation potential.

Developed with expert input from NCS Alliance members, the guidelines call for high ambition climate strategies consistent with the Paris Agreement goals, high integrity supply of NCS credits and robust international markets.

With an urgent need to increase investment in nature for climate impact, this report is timely. Momentum for corporate commitments to go carbon neutral or net zero provides an opportunity to channel much needed finance towards natural ecosystems. This is a critical pathway that can tackle both the climate and biodiversity crises while also providing improved livelihoods for local people.

All of this, however, depends on carbon markets. For these markets to scale with integrity and – critically – the trust of all private sector and civil society stakeholders, the Alliance states that we need to make sure that NCS credits are developed using the best practices and quality principles. This way NCS, they argue, can achieve their potential and deliver real, positive impacts on climate, biodiversity and society.

“We must act now to deal with the urgency of the nature loss, climate change and inequality crises that society faces” said Claire O’Neill, Managing Director of the Climate & Energy Program at WBCSD and NCS Alliance Steering Committee member. “With the right guardrails, as outlined by “Natural Climate Solutions for Corporates”, private sector investment in NCS could be a transformative part of our transition to a world in which more than nine billion people can live well, within planetary boundaries.”

The timely importance of this guidance is echoed by private sector members of the NCS Alliance. “We are in a race against time to limit global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, halt tropical forest loss and reverse biodiversity crisis,” said Thomas Lingard, Global Climate & Environment Director at Unilever and NCS Alliance Steering Committee member. “That’s why businesses interest in natural climate solutions that contribute to all these objectives is rightly gaining momentum. However, the complexity surrounding emissions reduction pathways, net-zero targets, carbon credits and company claims is a barrier to many companies taking action. Appropriate guidance to help businesses structure their climate strategies is needed.”

Developing a robust market for NCS credits to meet corporate climate commitments requires carbon project developers to implement projects that follow sound and verified carbon measurement and accounting methodologies, and apply rigorous environmental and social safeguards. “Natural Climate Solutions are a proven and effective tool for tackling the climate crisis, reversing biodiversity loss, and delivering myriad benefits for community wellbeing,” noted Dharsono Hartono, CEO of PT. Rimba Makmur Utama and the Katingan Mentaya Project based in Indonesia. “Providing we demonstrate credibility, transparency and high environmental integrity from project developers to crediting programs through to committed corporations, natural climate solutions can and should play a vital role in our global mitigation efforts.”

The NCS Alliance hopes the report forms the foundation that enables NCS to contribute its full potential to delivering the Paris climate goals, as well as solutions to some of the world’s most pressing and intractable environmental and social challenges. Investing in NCS impacts the climate, biodiversity and forest loss, land degradation, sustainable water management and sustainable community livelihoods.

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