Climate Change & Biodiversity Loss
Two of the most pressing issues in our world today are even more related than we thought. Climate change and dwindling biodiversity are problems we have been trying to solve for years. As we transition to a more sustainable future, the health of our planet and ecosystems must both be considered. However, a recent report has declared that we have been taking the wrong approach.
Treating both issues as one
In the past, global warming and biodiversity loss have been treated as independent challenges, each having separate policies and solutions. This approach can create more problems than it solves. According to a report written collaboratively by the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we need to start addressing these issues together as one.
Both problems are intertwined and heavily impact each other. On one hand, global warming has substantial negative impacts on the world’s species and ecosystems, propelling biodiversity loss. On the other hand, restoring and protecting our planet’s biodiversity is critical in addressing climate change as healthy, natural ecosystems capture and store massive volumes of carbon. Implementing joint solutions for both will be a necessity for a healthier, more sustainable future.
One of the most cost-effective approaches to solving these issues involves nature-based solutions – working with nature to restore, conserve, and manage ecosystems. Here are some of the most important solutions outlined in the report:
Preventing further loss and degradation of carbon- and species-rich ecosystems
These ecosystems include forests, peatlands, wetlands, savannahs, grasslands, mangroves, salt marshes, seagrass meadows, kelp forests, and deep water and polar blue carbon habitats. When properly maintained, these ecosystems can contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as they sequester huge amounts of carbon dioxide.
Restoring carbon- and species-rich ecosystems
This provides plants and animals with needed habitat, reinforcing biodiversity amid climate change. Restoring these ecosystems creates many other benefits such as flood regulation, coastal protection, better water quality, reduced soil erosion, and even job creation for indigenous and local communities.
Increasing sustainable agriculture and forestry practices
Doing so can improve our ability to adapt to climate change, reduce emissions, increase carbon storage, and strengthen biodiversity. For example, enhanced management of cropland and grazing systems such as soil conservation and fertilizer reduction provide us with an estimated mitigation potential of 3-6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
Eliminating subsidies that support local and national activities harmful to biodiversity
The elimination of activities such as deforestation, over-fishing, and over-fertilization all contribute to climate change mitigation and adaption. When combining many local initiatives we see an accumulation at the global level, every action whether big or small counts.
Society must contribute
Although they can greatly improve our situation, nature-based solutions themselves are not enough. We need to step forward collectively as individuals to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as well. There are many ways to do this such as microgeneration energy solutions, electric vehicles, energy efficient appliances, and much more.
To learn more ways to live sustainably, be sure to check out this blog post!
Moving forward, it will be especially important to keep both climate change and biodiversity in mind when addressing one or the other. Implementing successful joint solutions will take coordinated, global efforts as well as the combination of many local initiatives. All in all, restoring, managing, and enhancing our ecosystems not only benefits our planet, but our people too.