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MEETING OUR CLIMATE CARBON GOALSWildlife is Essential!Vance MartinThe 2016 Paris Agreement brought together almost all the world's nations - for the first time ever - in a single agreement to reduce the anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions causing global warming. These nations agreed to pursue efforts to limit global temperature rises to 1.5°C. Such efforts are currently focused on reducing net fossil fuel CO2 emissions to zero by completely shifting towards renewable energy generation by 2050, together with ending deforestation and changing land use to prevent the release of carbon already stored within ecosystems.
As important as these are, even if they are completely successful these efforts will not be enough to achieve the 1.5°C target. This is because there is already too much CO2 in the atmosphere. As a result, a need exists to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store it.” Sequester” it in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine sinks. Estimates indicate that 500 GtCO2 needs to be removed and stored between now and 2100 (or approximately 6.5 GtCO2 yr-1) to achieve the 1.5°C target. How can we do this?
The answer comes through integrating the issues and solutions that address both the climate and biodiversity crisis. It is still commonly assumed that committing landscape space to conserve and enhance biodiversity will conflict with the allocation of landscape space to capture and store carbon. In places where conservation initiatives could lead to the realisation of both benefits, carbon capture and storage and biodiversity conservation are still considered functionally unrelated. We can end this false and dangerous assumption. This assumption overlooks the critical role that biodiversity - particularly animal species - plays in controlling carbon uptake and storage in ecosystems. Animals graze and browse, migrate, impact soils, poop, spread seeds, absorb carbon into their bodies, die, and more… all with significant interactions with carbon. Indeed, scientific research now shows that by restoring wildlife populations to significant, near historic levels, they have the potential to "supercharge climate mitigation". This science is called: "Animating the Carbon Cycle (ACC)". An ACC project coalition has formed, facilitated by the Global Rewilding Alliance (GRA), including One Earth, Yale School of the Environment, Re:wild, GRID-Arendal, Rewilding Argentina, the Wilderness Specialist Group (IUCN), and The WILD Foundation, plus some 30+ additional global experts contributing pro-bono research to this initiative. "Restoring, rewilding, and conserving the functional role of vertebrate and invertebrate species can be a climate game changer by magnifying carbon uptake by 1.5 to 12.5 times (in some cases more) across the world's ecosystems," says Professor Oswald Schmitz of the Yale School for the Environment, a key originator of the ACC concept. It's clear that rewilding can be a great ally in the fight against climate change. This means it's time to change the narrative around wildlife conservation. Instead of framing wild animals as "victims of humanity's doomed climate voyage", they should be seen as real and significant climate heroes. Since less than 3 percent of the Earth's terrestrial surface can be considered functionally intact, and 97 percent of the ocean is open to fishing of some kind, the needs, and opportunities for "rewilding the climate" are as huge as they are necessary. Photo Credit: Staffan WidstrandExamples already abound that illustrate the new science, from wildebeest in the Serengeti, to forest elephants of Central Africa to blue whales in the great seas. Here’s a great, short video to start you off on this new, fascinating and important journey! Some more background for you!
www.rewildingglobal.org In 2020, anchored in a Global Charter for Rewilding the Earth: Advancing Nature-based Solutions to the Extinction and Climate Crises, the Global Rewilding Alliance (GRA) was born. Today the alliance consists of more 130 organisations working on rewilding more than 100 million hectares of land and sea in 70+ countries in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America, and North America. The GRA is also partner of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
Rewilding directly supports human wellbeing through ecosystem services, connecting humans to nature, and creating new, local, and sustainable economies. Rewilding thus directly creates the foundation of many of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially #13 (climate change), #14 (life below water) and #15 (life on land) but also #3 (good health) and #6 (clean water and sanitation). Income from ecological services has the potential to reduce poverty (#1) and inequality (#10) and raising living standards of local communities (#8).
Magnus Sylvén, Co-Director Karl Wagner, Co Director Vance G. Martin , President , WILD Foundation and Co-Chair, Wilderness Speciailist Group (IUCN)