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Climate change is a global challenge: nature-based solutions can, and must, play a key role

Credit: Adobe

3 min read

Mother nature will play an important role in helping to fight climate change. Dr Thérèse Coffey MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, outlines how the government is supporting nature-based solutions to achieve its net-zero targets.

From our peatlands and woodlands to tropical rainforests, seagrass meadows, and marvellous mangroves around the world; nature already plays a massive part in carbon sequestration, though we have not valued its role in climate sufficiently until recently – especially our oceans. We should not take our natural environment for granted, particularly our oceans, which are witnessing increasing acidification, and coral reefs, which have more than a billion people and a quarter of all marine life dependent on them.

That is why we are backing the world-class British science, innovation, and technology sectors that can help us scale up solutions, fast – reducing agricultural emissions at home and developing cutting-edge cold-chain technology to keep vital vaccines cool in rural Africa and help farming communities reduce emissions from refrigeration, as well as eliminating the estimated 40% of food that is otherwise lost within the first mile after harvest. The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, the most successful environmental treaty to date, phases greenhouse gases down significantly and is the most significant way to keep 1.5°C alive.

Meanwhile, it is right to use nature-based solutions for tackling climate change and adaptation. They are both effective and cost-effective, leading to improved prosperity, public health and food and water security.

Helping nature thrive and maximsing nature-based solutions is vital for our efforts to reach net-zero

Yet, nature needs our help as well. The reduction of forests is a huge part of the problem – and that is why 140 countries committed to halt and reverse forest loss by 2030, backed by almost $20bn of investment under our presidency of the UN climate summit COP26 in Glasgow. Abroad, we are planting more trees and supporting mangroves through the Blue Planet Fund. We have recently committed £80m to the Amazon Fund. Having doubled our international climate finance, we are spending a quarter of that on nature and aligning our international development spending with the recovery of the natural world.

In the UK, we have invested £750m in our new Nature for Climate Fund to help us increase forest cover and restore our peatlands. Our farmers are at the heart of our plan to improve the state of nature in our country – with new and improved schemes to reward them for their environmental work. We also established marine conservation zones which include action to preserve sea grass in our domestic waters. Every part of government is now required to take nature into account to help us reach the climate and nature targets we have put into law – with more powers and resources to do it.

We are mobilising pension fund managers and the City of London to get trillions of pounds moving in the right direction to support the transition to net-zero. From making sure people know how pension fund managers are using their hard-earned money, to developing new high-integrity climate and nature markets, consolidating the City of London as the world’s leading hub for green finance is good for the UK and the planet.

Helping nature thrive and maximising nature-based solutions is vital for our efforts to reach net-zero. As the Prime Minster said at COP27, there is no solution to climate change without protecting and restoring nature.

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