Over the past two years, the world experienced unprecedented global climate momentum. In September 2015, international leaders adopted the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals to fight poverty, promote sustainability and address climate change. Shortly after, nearly 200 countries came together in Paris to adopt the world’s largest ever international climate treaty.
At The Nature Conservancy, Bronson Griscom radiates an optimism somewhat rare for seasoned environmentalists. As an ecological accountant, he measures and analyzes the “carbon economy” of nature: the everyday role that trees, grasslands and coastal habitats play in the carbon cycle. He can measure the carbon impact of logging in old growth forests, or how well different forest ecosystems work as sponges for absorbing and storing carbon from the atmosphere. Griscom helps link our economy with the economy of the biosphere.
Encouraged by what he sees, the goals of carbon reduction the world wants to meet by 2030 are closer to possible, if we act now. Current business-as-usual trajectories, increased emissions entering the atmosphere and continued environmental degradation will lessen the impact that nature can have. If natural climate solutions are mobilized over the next 10 to 15 years, they could provide 37 percent of the needed mitigation for global climate targets. But if action is delayed until after 2030, that number drops to 33 percent, and drops again to only 22 percent after 2050.