Editor's Note: Climate Week will take place from September 23 to September 29. Check Conservation News for ongoing coverage of this global forum.
In the fight to stop climate breakdown, one of humanity’s greatest allies is all around us.
Protecting and restoring tropical forests can provide more than a third of the emissions reductions needed to stop the climate breakdown. The problem? Natural solutions like this are largely ignored — and grossly underfunded.
Now, a new film created in partnership with climate activist Greta Thunberg and writer and climate activist George Monbiot seeks to change that. “Nature Now” is a call to action for society to protect and restore nature, and to fund natural climate solutions before it’s too late.
“Right now, we are ignoring natural climate solutions,” says Thunberg, the 16-year-old leader of the Global Youth Climate Strike movement, in the film. “We spend 1,000 times more on global fossil fuel subsidies than on natural-based solutions. This is your money, it is your taxes and your savings.”
When world leaders gather next week for UN Climate Week, governments and businesses will plot a course of action to halt climate change — a course that cannot succeed without nature. “Maximizing nature’s power to stabilize our climate is a priority for my organization and at the heart of my work every day,” said Conservation International vice president Shyla Raghav. “This film promises to bring an unprecedented level of awareness to the role nature can play in meeting our climate goals.”
In an impassioned plea in The Guardian earlier this year, Monbiot joined a group of prominent artists and activists urging governments to support and restore forests, peatlands, mangroves and other crucial ecosystems that absorb vast amounts of carbon emissions from human activities. As part of this effort, he founded the Natural Climate Solutions campaign.
“There is a magic machine that sucks carbon out of the air, costs very little and builds itself. It’s called a tree,” Monbiot says in the film.
Despite being one of the most cost-effective — and just plain effective — approaches to the climate breakdown, natural climate solutions receive only 2 percent of the funding spent on climate change mitigation.
Nature, as Monbiot says in the film, is “a tool we can use to repair our broken climate.”
“As Greta and George say, what we do matters,” said Conservation International CEO M. Sanjayan. “Nature is alive with answers. And proof that the greatest hope to save nature is us.”
Kiley Price is a staff writer for Conservation International.
Cover image: Forest trees in the morning light, Sweden. (© Gustav Gullstrand)
- What is Climate Week? 3 things you need to know
- What on Earth is 'blue carbon'?
- What on Earth is 'reforestation'?