When we think about corporate climate action, the story is usually about companies cutting their emissions. Whether that’s from rolling out fleets of electric vehicles, investing in new green technology or purchasing renewable energy, companies are making progress towards net-zero emissions. Less often talked about are companies’ efforts to protect and restore nature.
Natural systems have a huge impact on climate change, both in terms of creating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removing them. One quarter of all human-caused GHG’s come from the way we manage land and agriculture. But at the same time, the latest report from the UN’s scientific climate body, the IPCC, was clear that nature is central to keeping global temperature rise below 1.5ºC. By protecting and restoring nature, we can both reduce the emissions caused by loss of natural systems, and also help remove carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.
When actions to protect and restore nature are measured, verified and accounted for, Nature-based Solutions (NbS) can supplement companies’ decarbonization actions. However, these “carbon offsets” can be controversial, with some companies only investing in offsets rather than eliminating GHG emissions from their own activities. But companies must do both – aggressively decarbonize their businesses and also invest in protecting and restoring nature.