Forests


Restoring U.S. Forests by Mid-Century

, scientific adviser, Climate and Energy

As both scientists (in many published papers) and political leaders (in the Paris Agreement) have now recognized, to stop global warming—to keep the global temperature from increasing indefinitely—we need to peak and then reduce emissions rapidly. We need to get our release of global warming pollution into the atmosphere, down to a level below the amount that carbon sequestration by the biosphere takes out of the atmosphere. This means that we have to work incredibly hard on two parallel tracks, simultaneously. On the one hand, cut pollution drastically. And on the other hand, regrow the biosphere. Read more >

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The Long-Term Goal We Need: The Science of Climate Neutrality

, scientific adviser, Climate and Energy

We’re halfway through the two weeks of the climate change negotiations here in Paris, and one contentious part of the draft text being negotiated is Article 3.1, entitled “Collective Long-Term Goal.” This will be a fundamental to the Paris Agreement, because it will establish what the nations of the world agree to be their ultimate objective in terms of global warming. Will it be to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average, or 2 degrees, or—God forbid—no limit at all?

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The Land Sector in INDCs: What We Have and What We Need as Paris Climate Talks Begin

, scientific adviser, Climate and Energy

As the world’s political leaders come to Paris for the international climate negotiations (COP21), how do things look with respect to the land sector (agriculture and forests), which is responsible for nearly ¼ of global greenhouse gas emissions? Over the past year, the Union of Concerned Scientists has been analyzing how countries included the land sector in their “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDCs). What are their plans and how could they be made better?

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Climate-Driven Changes on Federal Lands Could Undercut Clean Power Plan Gains

, senior climate scientist

The US Geological Survey has published the first-ever comprehensive estimate of carbon storage on federal lands under future climate scenarios. Initially, it looks like good news: federal lands are projected to store more carbon in 2050 than they did in 2005. However, a closer look reveals that a big chunk of these gains are dependent on the world staying on a relatively low-emissions pathway. The difference in net emissions from federal lands between high- and low-emissions climate scenarios has the potential to undercut the emission reductions expected under the Clean Power Plan. And going deeper, the study may not account for processes that could release much more carbon into the atmosphere.

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Forests, Agriculture, and Climate Change: Why the U.S. Needs Action, Not Just Accounting, in its INDC

, scientific adviser, Climate and Energy

The United States has now told the world what it intends to do about climate change in the 2020s, by submitting its INDC (“Intended Nationally Determined Contribution”) to the United Nations. As we found in our report Halfway There? in January, the U.S.’ land sector – agriculture and forests – could be a big deal for the climate negotiations in Paris next December. Of course, our actions to reduce fossil fuels will be critical, but land use is important both as a source of global warming pollution and a way to take it back out of the atmosphere. Read more >

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