Limiting global warming to a 1.5°C temperature rise requires drastic emissions reductions and removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. This project will evaluate in a systematic and scientific way the pathways to 1.5°C by using one of the world's leading Dynamic Global Vegetation Models (DGVMs) to implement the ecosystem-based mitigation pathways that were recently developed as part of the One Earth Climate Model. In partnership with University of Melbourne and University of Exeter, One Earth is exploring these forest restoration pathways. Most scientific research to date assumes CO2 removal in the form of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), reliance on BECCS remains prominent in high-profile policy advisory documents and scientific reports such as from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). However, others have highlighted the potential for negative social and environmental impacts of these options (Dooley et al., 2018), the possibility that additional land conversion could result in net losses of carbon from the land (Harper et al., 2018) and that BECCS poses increased risks to biodiversity and food security. University of Melbourne and University of Exeter are thus studying the possibility for achieving the Paris climate goals through natural climate solutions, without the use of BECCS and with significant benefits to biodiversity, ecosystem services and local communities (Dinerstein et al., 2019; Dooley & Kartha, 2018).
This project will quantify the impacts on atmospheric CO2 and climate of natural climate solutions, with dependencies on timing, location, and land use, which are highly relevant for science and policy debates. It will create a better understanding of the carbon cycle response to large-scale land management interventions, identification of potential ‘restoration hotspots’, and comparative benefits of different land management practices. By researching the pathways to achieving the 1.5°C goal the comparative climate benefits of different land-management practices will be quantified, including plantations, natural reforestation, agroforestry, and silvopasture. The research will produce land management plans that could bring about multiple co-benefits, such as sustainable forest management and silvopasture. This project will make it possible to identify hotspots where biodiversity values and carbon-dense restoration opportunities overlap. Results will combine such natural solutions with the strong emissions reduction pathways in the One Earth Climate Model, thus empowering humanity to manage this great challenge of the 21st century.