Exponential roadmap for natural climate solutions

Humanity is facing a climate emergency. Nature has the power to help — but we must protect, manage and restore its ability to do so.



The facts

We need to act

We need to act: In the coming years, average global temperatures will likely rise above 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) — the limit at which runaway global warming will begin to upend life on Earth. Only swift action will prevent this.


Reducing deforestation is critical

Deforestation is at the heart of the climate crisis. The degradation and destruction of forests for agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases — second only to fossil fuel emissions.


Change is possible

The global transition to clean and renewable energy has seen major progress in investment and policy — we know transformative change is possible.


We cannot stop a climate crisis without nature

Even if the energy and industry sectors cut their emissions to meet climate targets, humanity will fail to avert a worst-case scenario if we do not also reverse the destruction of forests, peatlands and other ecosystems that absorb and store carbon.



Enter the Exponential Roadmap for Natural Climate Solutions

A pathway to a more stable climate

Grounded in the latest climate science, our roadmap outlines a path to reach net zero emissions from the land sector by 2030 through natural climate solutions. It is a critical step toward providing:

  • communities with resources to support land stewardship
  • countries with the knowledge to identify and activate the climate potential of their domains
  • companies and financiers with clear paths to invest in climate solutions



Download the
Exponential Roadmap for Natural Climate Solutions

Full report (7.8MB)



Establishing the “Carbon Law for Nature”

Proposed in 2017, the Carbon Law states that to keep climate warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial times, emissions should peak in 2020 and halve every decade until reaching net zero in 2050. Protecting and restoring nature is essential to reaching this goal. To that end, the roadmap establishes a new “Carbon Law for Nature” – a benchmark for emissions from the land sector each year. Currently, 12.5 Gt of greenhouse gas emissions are released each year from humanity’s use of land. We aim to reduce this to net zero by 2030, a 5 Gt sink by 2040 and a 10 Gt sink by 2050.


New research released today finds that to avoid catastrophic climate change, the land sector – including agriculture, forestry and natural land protection and restoration – must reach net zero emissions by 2030. The research is part of a new report, “The Exponential Roadmap for Natural Climate Solutions,” released by Conservation International and partners Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, WWF, and the Exponential Roadmap Initiative and that lays out a new benchmark: the “Carbon Law for Nature.” Rooted in the latest climate science, this benchmark states that everyone with a land sector footprint – particularly companies, banks and governments – must reach net zero emissions by 2030 and collectively achieve a 10 gigaton (Gt) carbon sink by 2050 across that footprint. LEARN MORE: conservation.org/roadmap

The “Carbon Law for Nature” is a simple benchmark for accelerating emissions mitigation from the land each year to reach net zero by 2030.


The Carbon Law for Nature is ambitious but is backed by state-of-the-art science. Our roadmap lays out how we can get there.



Steps in the Roadmap

Step 1: Scale up actions that protect, restore and improve nature’s ability to store carbon.

There are regions that are storing large amounts of carbon, which need to be protected:


© Flavio Forner

Prevent deforestation and other destructive activities in the forests of the Amazon, Congo Basin and Southeast Asia.


© Conservation International/photo by Heng Wang

Better manage working lands with practices that boost productivity and increase carbon storage on farms and grazing lands across the United States, Europe, China and India.


© Isobe Asako

Restore damaged and destroyed ecosystems, like peatlands and mangroves in tropical Southeast Asia and peatlands in the Eurasian and North American boreal zones.


Step 2: Transform what we eat and how we grow it.

We can do this while feeding a growing global population, but the agriculture and forestry sectors can, and must:


© Flavio Forner

Shift more than 20 percent of the world’s working lands and 65 percent of timber-producing natural forests toward climate-smart management by 2030.


© Benjamin Drummond

Take the US $300B currently dedicated to harmful agriculture and forestry activities and redirect it towards regenerative production models by 2030.


Women at market
© Art Wolfe

Encourage 50 percent of the world’s population to choose a more sustainable diet by 2050 — cutting food waste in half and opening up opportunities to restore agricultural land to natural ecosystems.


© Georgina Goodwin

Feed all livestock tree fodder, crop byproducts and food waste instead of human-grade produce by 2050.


Step 3: Rapidly scale low-cost, centuries-old practices in land management

Many of these practices incorporate Indigenous knowledge including:


© Jessica Scranton

Integrate trees into croplands by extending and blending natural forests into commercial agricultural areas, without reducing yields.


A herder brings his cattle in for the night.
© Tessa Mildenhall

Implement climate-smart grazing practices like rotating animals across the landscape.


Woman harvests crops in Tanzania, the site of a Conservation International project.
© Benjamin Drummond

Manage soil with regenerative practices like reduced-tillage farming.


© Georgina Goodwin

Disincentivize grain-fed meat industries to mitigate methane emissions.


© Benjamin Drummond

Stop fertilizer over-use and waste from runoff that pollutes waterways.


Step 4: Reverse agriculture-related deforestation in supply chains


© Benjamin Drummond

Help supply chains, from producers and traders to retailers and investors, expand and deliver on their commitments to reach zero deforestation.


© VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm

Deploy “Climate-Smart Forestry” practices like reduced-impact logging and extending rotation periods that can strengthen forests’ social, economic and environmental benefits – including the productive capacity of forests.


© Flavio Forner

Rapidly advance trade laws worldwide to halt illegal forest conversion and ban commodities produced on illegally deforested land.



How you can use this report as a...

Prioritize the most effective policy actions
Business leader
Identify key climate risks and opportunities
Direct green investment to where it’s most needed
Social Activist
See where consumer education efforts should be focused
Deploy natural climate solutions at the local scale



Download the full report

The Exponential Roadmap for Natural Climate Solutions is available to download.