The race for net-zero is on. This is how we can do it


  • Nature can play a fundamental role in achieving net zero, with the capacity to provide one-third of cost-effective solutions to climate change.
  • Securing a net zero sustainable future for land use will require coordinated transformation.
  • There must be a shift towards positive and net zero land use, which will require continued financial support and investments in nature-based solutions.
  • Financial institutions should commit to becoming “ positive for nature ” by 2030, including by reversing the loss of biodiversity associated with investment and lending portfolios.

The world faces converging environmental crises that are inextricably linked: the accelerated destruction of nature and climate change, driven largely by unsustainable production and consumption. Science warns us that if we deviate from the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5 ° C, the world could quickly find itself at a tipping point.

Nature is the foundation of our global economy, generating approximately $ 44 trillion in global economic value. Nature will also play a fundamental role in achieving net zero, with the capacity to provide one-third of cost-effective solutions to climate change.

Meanwhile, cultivated land accounts for 38% of the world’s land surface and agricultural practices are a major contributor to tropical deforestation. Together with forestry and other land use activities, they account for 24% of total global emissions, mainly due to deforestation and agricultural emissions related to livestock, soil and nutrient management. Agriculture alone is the main driver of land use change and deforestation in the tropics, accounting for over 90% of the estimated forest loss over the past two decades.

We know that between 1990 and 2016, the world lost 130 million hectares of forest. Agricultural products such as livestock, palm oil, soybeans, cocoa, rubber, coffee and plantation wood fiber accounted for 26% of the global tree cover loss from 2001 to 2015, replacing 71 , 9 million hectares of forest, an area twice the size of Germany. The 2019 report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Land Use concluded that protecting and restoring forests and urgently reorganizing the global food system through food change are solutions keys to the escalation of biodiversity, climate and food security crises.

Agriculture, forestry and land use is a unique sector as it provides foodstuffs that feed the earth’s population of around 7.6 billion people, livelihoods for billions of people around the world and constitute an essential resource for sustainable development in many regions. Land use is therefore both a source and sink of CO2 emissions, playing a crucial role in the fight against climate change.

The race to zero

Securing a sustainable net-zero future for land use will be a challenge and will require coordinated transformation. Policymakers, businesses, investors, innovators and citizens all need to come together to trigger this transformation and agree on next steps. With the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, which is a crucial milestone later this year, the promises and commitments made by governments must be translated into meaningful action, starting today.

Calls for change have also been accompanied by the arrival of initiatives that can accelerate change in the land use sector. One example is the FACT (Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade) dialogue launched by the COP26 presidency and supported by the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) to accelerate the transition to more sustainable land use practices in order to open up new investment opportunities and jobs.

While the net zero finish line seems a long way off, the good news is we can get there, and in a way that is good for business and promises a resilient future that more than justifies taking action.

РJustin Adams and Gonzalo Mu̱oz

But even with changes underway, the world must quickly make inroads into all sectors of the global economy. Race to Zero is a global campaign to rally the leadership and support of businesses, cities, regions and investors for a healthy, resilient and zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs and unleashes inclusive growth and durable. Winning the race to net zero emissions by 2050 (at the latest) means that we must collectively halve current emissions by 2030 and then again by 2050. There is no time to waste .

To go further, the Race to Zero Breakthroughs offers a set of roadmaps to achieve the Paris Agreement targets of 1.5 ° C in all sectors. For nature-based solutions (NbS) and the land use sector, the ambition is for 20% of the food supply industry to adopt a science target aligned with the Paris Agreement by the latest at COP26, commit to a supply without deforestation. -chains by 2023, adopt a science-based goal of net zero to reverse biodiversity loss and improve regenerative agriculture by 2023.

What Can Businesses Do?

While the net zero finish line seems a long way off, the good news is we can get there, and in a way that is good for business and promises a resilient future that more than justifies taking action. The roadmap’s exponential research is consistent with this, indicating that nature can help us reduce and remove up to 98GT CO2e from the atmosphere as early as 2030. The World Economic Forum’s Nature and Net Zero report, as to He believes that natural climate solutions, including cover crops, can deliver up to 7 Gt of CO2 per year and at a lower cost than other forms of CO2 removal. In most cases, prices are between $ 10 and $ 40 per tonne of CO2 with variations between geographic areas and types of projects.

Image: Report Nature and Net Zero

The world can feel encouraged even in the face of COVID-19; during the pandemic, net zero liabilities practically doubled. Corporate commitments under the Race to Zero campaign alone now cover over 12% of the global economy and $ 9.81 trillion in revenue. We also know that 55% decarbonization of the global food supply chain is sustainable by nature.

To join the movement for a zero-rate, nature-positive economy, companies should integrate the full value of ecosystem services from forests and other natural landscapes into all business decisions by 2025. In addition, companies can also deliver on their commitments to end losses in primary forests and other natural ecosystems such as mangroves, peatlands, grasslands and savannas, so that by 2030, the loss of nature has been canceled.

But breakthroughs cannot happen if we all work in isolation. The challenges of competition and inertia often reduce our ambitions. There must be a shift towards positive and net zero land use, which will require continued financial support and investments in NbS.

Financing nature’s positive race to zero

Facilitating this shift towards net zero land use will require continued financial support and will require a reorientation of negative financial flows. The recently released State of Finance for Nature report indicates that around $ 133 billion a year is currently found in nature, with public funds accounting for 86% and private funding 14%. The report also says investments in NbS are expected to at least triple in real terms by 2030 and quadruple by 2050 if the world is to meet its climate change, biodiversity and land degradation targets.

However, current investments and capital flows can have a negative impact on nature. Countries that produce two-thirds of global agricultural production provided an average of $ 600 billion per year in agricultural financial support from 2014 to 2016. Only 5% of this funding supports any kind of conservation or climate goal, and only 6% support research and technical assistance. Governments should create economic and regulatory incentives to scale up investments that favor nature.

Image: World Resources Institute

Given its critical role in both mitigation and adaptation, it is fundamental that financial institutions commit to becoming ‘nature positive’ by 2030, including by reversing biodiversity loss associated with investment and loan portfolios. Financial institutions should design and deliver innovative financial products that promote climate-smart agroecological practices, and work with governments and donors to design appropriate financial mechanisms for the same purpose, with the aim of reducing half the emissions and reverse the loss of nature by 2030.

Financial alliances such as the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, which brings together leading net zero initiatives from across the financial system to accelerate the transition to net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest, and the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative, will play a decisive role. in realizing these financial and business opportunities. This coordination between financial institutions should promise that 20% of large asset owners, asset managers and banks will engage in investment portfolios without land conversion by 2025.

Five months away from COP26, and as we enter the United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration, we have arrived at a critical moment to avoid a climatic and ecological disruption. Together, the world must move towards a resilient, healthy and carbon-free world. Rather than reaching a tipping point, 2050 could be a world where low-carbon industries are associated with fertile forests and restored land.

The race for positive nature is on.

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