New study published in the journal Nature Sustainability offers a useful way to think about carbon-rich ecosystems also known as natural carbon solutions or natural carbon sinks and their ability to mitigate climate change.
The authors of the research have identified the carbon-rich places or areas that we absolutely can’t lose. They are defined as areas of “irrecoverable carbon” and refer to forests, mangrove stands, peatlands, and other areas that wouldn’t recover by 2050 if we wreck them.
According to the study, half the world’s irrecoverable carbon is concentrated on 3.3% of the land. Those areas summed together are equivalent in size to India and Mexico. They are currently disappearing bit by bit every year, and hold 15 times the amount of CO2 released in 2020.
The research also states that protections for 5.4% of this land would keep 75% of this carbon out of the atmosphere. There is also a map included in the study showing the high-carbon areas. It aims to serve as a useful resource for groups from biodiversity-focused activists to multilateral institutions like the World Bank.
“The map can give companies a clear vision where they should be investing,” said Allie Goldstein, Conservation International’s director for climate protection and a lead author of the study.
Carbon markets are also one of the tools that can slow down deforestation and degradation of those irrecoverable carbon areas. New standards negotiated at COP26 conference in Glasgow for “Article 6” could impose structure and transparency on opaque voluntary markets where companies or governments can trade carbon offsets. Article 6 is a section of the 2015 climate pact governing how countries can trade credits to emit CO2.
More clear structure and transparency on carbon markets can increase trust and the confidence needed to unleash billions of investments towards the recovery and conservation of carbon-rich areas, in particular, in developing nations. The study helps bring more clarity on natural carbon solutions and the value they hold in storing carbon and thus addressing climate change.