Net Zero: Science, Origins, and Implications

A sunset over a blanket bog in the North of Scotland
Protecting intact ecosystems is a priority, as their ecological integrity likely makes them more resilient, increasing their ability to act as long-term carbon sinks

Allen, M.R., et al. 2022

A new study Net Zero: Science, Origins, and Implications in Annual Review of Environment and Resources, co-authored by NbSI Technical Director Cecile Girardin and ECI Oxford colleagues, includes examination of the role of nature-based solutions in net zero.

The review explains the science behind the drive for global net zero emissions, why this is needed to halt the ongoing rise in global temperatures, and examines carbon removal/mitigation measures including NbS.

The paper argues that while NbS provide opportunities to reduce CO2 emissions alongside substantial co-benefits, it must in future also counter food production and global warming-induced biosphere carbon emissions. Relying on the biosphere to partially or fully compensate for continued production of CO2 from burning fossil fuels also carries risks, including rerelease of carbon to the atmosphere because land-use practices change, pathogen or invasive pest outbreaks (an acute problem in low-diversity forests such as temperate or island ecosystems), or risks due to climate change itself increasing the likelihood of carbon loss from ecosystems. NbS are therefore unlikely to be scaled sufficiently to compensate for ongoing fossil fuel emissions past mid-century

The review argues that what matters is not the precise makeup of emissions & removals, but the sustainability of the net zero strategy, and its implications for global temperature over multidecadal timescales.

Read the full paper: Net Zero: Science, Origins, and Implications