Nature-Based Climate Solutions
Nature based climate solutions (NBCS) are changes in land use and/or management with measurable benefits for climate change mitigation, adaptation, and biodiversity.
Canada’s diverse ecosystems can be part of the climate solution. Actions to Protect (see the Protected Area section), Restore (see the Habitat Restoration section that includes the tree planting initiative), or Reduce Land Use Change and Manage Ecosystems for near term climate mitigation benefits (this section), as well as ecosystem focused actions that provide climate resilience benefits to communities (see the Natural Infrastructure section), all have benefits for helping us meet mitigation, adaptation and biodiversity targets, though with different timelines and depending on where they occur, with different specific benefits.
Some NBCS for example, especially those described in the Federal Habitat Restoration Program and Natural Infrastructure sections, are investments that can immediately (within 6-18 months) generate new jobs for communities hit especially hard economically, such as agricultural communities, northern communities, and Nature-based climate solutions, as defined by IUCN, help to address climate change while providing benefits for biodiversity conservation.
Indigenous communities impacted by drops in demand for oil, gas, certain wood products, and other natural resources. Data from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act show that job creation from investments in habitat restoration projects are higher than investments in oil and gas, and could be even higher than job creation ROIs for alternative or renewable energy or energy retrofits (for example, as compared to figures cited by the Task Force on Resilient Recovery). In addition to high returns on investment, NBCS can save cash strapped municipalities large sums of money compared to traditional infrastructure while diversifying economies and growing Canada’s GDP in a more nature and climate friendly manner.
There is also a need to specifically harness the power of nature to meet our 2030 Paris Agreement mitigation targets. Our ecosystems are projected to sequester less carbon in 2030 than ever before. Changing the rate of ecosystem degradation and loss in forests, native grasslands and wetlands will have an immediate mitigation impact. In addition to some actions taken to protect and restore ecosystems (e.g., restoring grasslands may store enough carbon in the near term to make a difference by 2030), we can do this by lightening our footprint on the land through innovative management approaches and technologies that will result in reducing the rate of ecosystem degradation while still delivering important goods and services and safeguarding jobs. Programs and regulations to drive business innovation and new practices and technologies will also create jobs and revenue.
To be effective, investments to implement land-use change and management practices that reduce direct GHG emissions and/or increase sequestration should:
- Directly support actors (e.g., NGOs, industry, Indigenous peoples) who are pursuing innovative management and technology solutions to reduce ecosystem emissions from industries with a large footprint, such as the oil and gas, forestry, and agriculture sectors;
- Develop and grow ECCC programs focused on reducing land use change and degradation, such as loss of native grasslands and wetlands;
- Provide support for Indigenous peoples seeking to manage lands and natural resources with a lighter ecological and GHG emissions footprint and opportunity for local jobs;
- Support provinces to adjust and advance new forestry practices and land use planning to reduce their infrastructure footprint, while ensuring jobs and safety;
- Ensure that any infrastructure funding or funding used to revitalize Canadian industries consider how those investments could also reduce ecosystem emissions from land use change and management practices;
- Grow the knowledge and scientific and economic data required to develop policies and regulations to further encourage actors to reduce emissions from ecosystem loss and degradation, for example by expanding the scope of the GHG Pollution Act; and
- Support a better understanding and quantification of the GHG impacts that industrial activities are having on our natural assets, including wetlands, grasslands and oceans; and systemically include them into Canadian laws and policies.
Investments could flow through existing channels in ECCC, INFC, AAFC, DFO and NRCan to help with resource deployment, but should be tracked carefully to ensure funding is used to provide: a) direct mitigation benefits from land use change and management by 2030; b) positive biodiversity outcomes, and, c) information to inform policies to drive broader transformative change towards a greener economy.
At least $1 billion for reducing GHG emissions from land-use change and degradation over ten years.[ECCC, NRCAN] If managed carefully to leverage opportunities at around $50/tonne CO2 eq, this could leverage 2 MT of GHG emission reductions a year. Over 10 years and leveraging funding and policies for other related activities such as those listed above, these investments can put us on a path to achieving increased emission reductions from LULUCF in 2030.