If work begins now to aggressively restore and protect Canada’s forests, grasslands, farmlands, and peatlands, the country could reduce its annual emissions by 78 megatonnes (Mt) by 2030, says a groundbreaking new study.
The research, recently published in the journal Science Advances, focused on natural climate solutions, writes The Globe and Mail. The tactics on its menu “include protecting grasslands, planting trees alongside cash crops, avoiding peatland disturbance, and transforming crop residue into biochar, which is a highly stable form of carbon that can be added to soil to improve its quality.”
Together, these initiatives could cut “more than a tenth” of Canada’s current emissions, the paper adds.
“If used wisely, this study could be a game changer,” said Catherine Potvin, a McGill University professor and the Canada Research Chair in Climate Change Mitigation and Tropical Forests. “If the Trudeau government is wise, they should read this [study] with care and include these mechanisms in their plan.”
The study was unique in that it involved 16 institutions, “including universities, non-profits, and federal departments such as the Canadian Forest Service and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada,” notes the Globe. The comprehensive focus was initiated by Nature United, the Canadian arm of the Nature Conservancy, in order to “address gaps in data related to natural climate solutions specific to Canada.”
The broad reach also allowed the researchers to pair scientific data with economic information. The approach revealed, for example, that while “avoiding peatland disturbance related to horticultural peat extraction, mine development, or road and seismic line construction” will produce the second-largest mitigation benefits, after grassland protection, such efforts would also be the costliest, “with no mitigation available at less than C$100 per Mt of carbon dioxide equivalent.”
The Globe says the report is hitting the airwaves “just weeks after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to cut Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030—exceeding the country’s initial commitment to a 30% reduction under the Paris Agreement.”