Luers co-authors accounting for the climate benefit of temporary carbon storage in nature
Amy Luers co-authored a paper in Nature Communications offering an approach to address the challenge of accounting for temporary carbon storage of nature-based climate solutions.
Nature-based climate solutions can contribute to climate mitigation, but the vulnerability of land carbon to disturbances means that efforts to slow or reverse land carbon loss could result in only temporary storage. The challenge of accounting for temporary storage is a key barrier to the implementation of nature-based climate mitigation strategies. Here we offer a solution to this challenge using tonne-year accounting, which integrates the amount of carbon over the time that it remains in storage. We show that tonne-years of carbon storage are proportional to degree-years of avoided warming, and that a physically based tonne-year accounting metric could effectively quantify and track the climate benefit of temporary carbon storage. If the world can sustain an increasing number of tonne-years alongside rapid fossil fuel CO2 emissions reductions, then the resulting carbon storage (even if only temporary) would have considerable and lasting climate value by lowering the global temperature peak.
Matthews, H.D., Zickfeld, K., Koch, A. et al. Accounting for the climate benefit of temporary carbon storage in nature. Nat Commun 14, 5485 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-41242-5