Friday, September 11, 2009

Ecosystems are climate mitigation and adaptation engines...

A new study by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity project launched by Germany and the European Commission reports that investing in the restoration and maintenance of the Earth’s multi-trillion dollar ecosystems--from forests and mangroves to wetlands and river basins--can have a key role in countering climate change.

A Climate Issues Update was launched this month by study leader Pavan Sukhdev of Deutsche Bank. The update suggests that an agreement on funding for forests is a priority for governments attending the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen in December. Fifteen percent of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions are being sequestered by forests every year, making them the mitigation engine of the natural world, highlights a press release by the German Ministry for the Environment.

Investing in ecosystem-based measures such as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) has been identified as an effective means to combat climate change and a key anti-poverty and adaptation measure. Forests also provide services such as freshwater, soil stabilization, nutrients for agriculture, eco-tourism opportunities, and food, fuel, and fibre, all of which are key to buffering vulnerable communities against climate change.

The TEEB initiative is urging governments to factor these benefits into a forest carbon finance package in order to maximize the return of an agreement in Copenhagen. “This might pave the way for a new economy in the 21st century where natural or nature-based assets become part of mainstream economic and policy planning,” notes the German Ministry for the Environment.

The TEEB findings indicate that investing in the Earth’s ecological infrastructure offers an excellent rate of return. For example an investment of $45 billion in protected areas alone could secure nature-based services worth some $5 trillion a year.

“Human vulnerability to the harmful impacts of global climate change is significantly increased by the loss of biodiversity. TEEB proves that the protection and restoration of ecological infrastructure is a cost effective means to mitigate global climate change,” notes the German Minister for the Environment.