Climate change is one of the greatest environmental issues of our time.
We need to act quickly and take advantage of existing solutions to prevent irreversible damage to our planet. Natural ecosystems provide significant opportunities to cut emissions dramatically and to preserve the adaptive potential of our biosphere.
Our goal : Curbing emissions and adapting to change
CI has designated climate security as one of our six main initiatives.
Each of our initiatives illustrates the deep links between humanity and nature and demonstrates the importance of an integrated approach to natural resource management.
Learn more about CI's other core initiatives
Many factors are contributing to climate change, from fossil fuel use to the burning and clearing of tropical forests. We need a comprehensive approach to reduce the impacts of climate change – an approach that decreases emissions across all sectors and enhances ...view middle of the document...
We are already seeing changing weather patterns impacting food production and species migration. Fresh water scarcity risks becoming even more acute in drought-stricken countries and flooding may increasingly threaten our coastal communities and directly impact hundreds of thousands of people each year. Conflict is increasing over strained ecosystems and local communities are being forced from their homes.
Solutions are needed now. Our ecosystems must be able to adapt to these changes so that they can retain productivity, continue to buffer extreme weather events and provide fresh water and a myriad of other services for all life on Earth. In addition, human communities need the knowledge and tools to effectively adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Our solution: Protection and sustainable management of natural ecosystems
Protecting the Earth's ecosystems can yield immediate, cost-effective climate change solutions that will be forever lost if we do not take immediate action.
For example, the burning and clearing of tropical forests is a major – though often unrecognized – source of greenhouse gas emissions. It accounts for roughly 16 percent of total global emissions, more than all of the world's cars, trucks, ships, trains and planes combined. It is now generally recognized that it will be impossible to achieve any of the needed targets for mitigating climate change without significantly curbing the clearing and burning of tropical forests. In fact, reducing global deforestation by 50 percent by 2020 offers nearly one-third of the cost-effective, technologically available options to meet 450 ppm stabilization targets.
In addition, intact forests and other natural ecosystems – including wetlands, peatlands, coral reefs and mangroves – also reduce the risk of catastrophic impacts like floods and droughts, contribute to food and freshwater security for both rural and urban communities, allow for species migration and ecological adaptation, and support the livelihoods of indigenous and local communities. Maintaining these ecosystems will ensure that humans and other species can remain as resilient as possible to the impacts of climate change.