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Nature is taking center stage

Sponsored: Climate targets demand biodiversity and agriculture interventions. While funding has been far less than needed, that may not be the case for long.


Top of trees in a dense forest. Image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

This article is sponsored by Pure Stategies.

While energy efficiency and renewable energy lead in climate solutions, there is a growing focus on biodiversity and agriculture because of their potential to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. From investments to policy frameworks, nature is starting to take center stage.

Models show that shifting to renewable energy alone are not enough to avert the worst effects of climate change. The solution set must include nature. As Project Drawdown notes, "Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and land use needs to play a central role in the way we address climate change."

However, as the Speed and Scale plan shows, renewable energy solutions are generally tracking in the right direction, but biodiversity and agriculture interventions are not near the level needed. That could start to change.

Looking at private funding to U.S.-based organizations, nature and agriculture investments exceed those for energy efficiency and renewable energy. About one-quarter of private and philanthropy investments in climate are going to natural resources, land conservation and related efforts, according to the Climate Finance Tracker. This is second only to renewable energy investments. Yet, together, funding for nature and agriculture-related climate solutions comprise about 45 percent of private funding in the U.S., with energy at 34 percent.

While this is promising, there is not enough overall funding for nature-based solutions and protecting nature. This is where corporate and policy frameworks could bolster attention and funds.

Two of the leading corporate standard-setting bodies for climate are highlighting nature action. No-deforestation commitments are required by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) for businesses in the food and forest products sectors. This is aimed to ensure that the top needs in greenhouse gas emissions reductions are addressed. "Stopping deforestation makes up the majority — 80 percent — of the 4.6 GT mitigation potential from land use change," the SBTi points out.

Further, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol’s draft Land Sector and Removal Guidance sets out to clarify how businesses complete their corporate inventory to include land-based and biogenic actions, along with other removals approaches. Notably, the draft includes accounting requirements for companies to track land use change emissions and land management emissions, along with non-land emissions. It also proposes that companies track additional land metrics, such as land occupation or indirect land use change emissions across the value chain.

Corporate attention is expected to be underscored in December in a milestone policy event for biodiversity. This 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is expected to finalize the latest Global Biodiversity Framework. "The framework provides a strategic vision and a global roadmap for the conservation, protection, restoration and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems for the next decade," the CBD states.

The draft Global Biodiversity Framework includes expectations for companies to assess and report impacts and dependencies on nature. The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) and Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) provide a view of what this may entail. Notably, the climate frameworks described above provide a solid starting point, including deforestation and land use, to build and expand from to fully address material nature topics.

The draft Global Biodiversity Framework aims to drive government-level policy changes. There are several aspects to this — from ensuring that enabling tools, such as subsidies, support biodiversity protection to implementing sufficient ecosystem-based climate mitigation efforts are in place. The U.S. government’s Nature-Based Solutions Roadmap, released in November, shows that governments are ready to step up.

We are starting to see the pieces coming together. At the COP27 meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in November, leaders from 26 countries and the European Union launched the Forests and Climate Leaders’ Partnership (FCLP). This aims to fulfill the pledge made at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021 to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030, and it includes notable new financial commitments from private, corporate and public funds.

Nature plays a critical role to meeting climate goals. At the same time, we need to manage devasting levels of nature loss and accelerating pressures on nature. The elevated attention from frameworks for governmental action and corporate efforts should drive additional financial support for climate solutions through nature and agriculture — to get closer to realizing a net-zero emissions and a nature-positive future.

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