Nature-based climate solutions #KAIROSClimateAction
In the recent federal election, every major political party in Canada had commitments to conserving and protecting ecosystems in Canada as part of their solutions for addressing climate change. Some committed to investments in planting trees, restoring wetlands and grasslands, and protecting oceans, while others included investments for Indigenous-led conservation and guardian programs.
These interventions are commonly known as nature-based climate solutions (or NBCS). NBCS recognizes that ecosystems play a vital role in removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, in protecting habitats from climate change impacts, and in maintaining biodiversity.
These investments are important, but governments and corporations often misuse these investments to offset their emissions rather than making the investments that will reduce their emissions in the first place. For example, investing in nature-based climate solutions while subsidizing the oil and gas industry is not a climate solution. NBCS is not a substitute for emission reduction. As we explored in Week 2 of Climate Action Month, governments need to end subsidies and approvals for new fossil fuel supply first and foremost, to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.
Furthermore, questionable nature-based solutions can lead to human rights violations, land grabs, and negative environmental outcomes. Both UN-REDD and REDD+ initiatives (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) in the Global South have been the source of human rights and environmental violations and have even failed at times to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Concerns about these initiatives were raised in the lead up to the Kyoto protocol, including issues such as their permanence and accurately measuring their impact. Ivonne Yanez of Acción Ecológica, a KAIROS partner, outlines these failures in more detail in her article REDD and Rights: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
In so-called Canada, Indigenous peoples also exercise caution with government investment in nature-based climate solutions. As we learned in Week 3 from Indigenous Climate Action’s Decolonizing Climate Policy in Canada, Indigenous peoples have been excluded as rights holders from the development of Canadian climate policy and there is concern that they will be excluded in the same way from nature-based climate solutions. Indigenous Leadership Initiative has been active in advancing the role of Indigenous Nations in conservation, land-use planning, and governance.