Natural climate solutions – planting trees, restoring wetlands, and sustainable farming practices – have a major impact on reducing carbon emissions.
It’s cost effective, empowering for local communities, and popular because it works!
Farmers often rotate crops with cover crops
Why are natural solutions so effective?
Well-managed forests and farms are natural solutions to climate change. They absorb carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers.
Forests comprise 32% of all land in the U.S. and absorb nearly 16 percent of carbon dioxide emissions per year. Planting trees as a solution to climate change has a 90% approval rating.
Farming practices can improve soil health to retain more carbon and reduce impacts from droughts and flooding.
Trees Naturally Absorb Carbon Dioxide From the Atmosphere in Order to Grow
We need to plant a lot of trees! Incentives to restore trees to the landscape could prompt more reductions than the entire US aviation sector. Most of the tree planting opportunity lies on private land. Incentive programs for improved land management practices can be leveraged to achieve ambitious goals. However, we need to be careful not to overplant forests and worsen conditions for forest fires. Proper measurement at the state and federal level is critical.
Farming practices like cover crops, low or no till, and crop rotations build soil diversity that stores more carbon. This method of farming also reduces the need for fertilizer which reduces carbon emissions and improves water quality. There are existing state programs that are working that can be modeled for federal legislation.
Investing in advanced agricultural and biotechnology innovation to drive our highly efficient farming systems further. This includes new crop varieties with higher yields and more stored carbon; using computers to optimize fertilizer and pesticide application, and technologies to recycle waste into fuel.
The Department of Agriculture’s Research Service is supporting some of this work, but more is needed.
There are a number of methods that can both improve soil health and reduce emissions and runoff.