Nature As A Carbon Sequestration Solution

New CLEE/Emmett Institute report analyzes policy solutions to accelerate investment

New UC Berkeley/UCLA Law report discusses policy solutions to accelerate investment in nature-based climate solutions in California. Register for a free webinar on Wednesday, June 16 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM Pacific Time with an expert panel to learn about the top findings.

This post is co-authored by Katie Segal and Ted Lamm.

Some of the most promising, cost-effective climate change solutions are in our own backyards. Trees, plants, soils, and ecosystems like wetlands can store and ultimately bury carbon, helping California and other jurisdictions achieve the “negative emissions” needed to meet long-term carbon neutrality goals.

These nature-based solutions also can reduce emissions from the land sector, such as emissions from agricultural practices. In addition, they can generate significant benefits beyond storing carbon, such as cleaning water, enriching biodiversity, providing more equitable access to urban green spaces,  improving public health outcomes, and creating opportunities for COVID-19 economic recovery.

Yet nature-based climate solutions can be difficult to deploy because of various funding and financing barriers, despite the potential for reliable returns for a range of stakeholders. Resource managers and landowners may have high-quality projects in mind—from sustainable forest and vegetation management to urban greening—but struggle to connect with the right financing or funding pathways to development. Similarly, investors may wish to direct resources toward environmentally beneficial projects but lack sufficient information to identify best-fit vehicles and model returns.

Specific barriers to investment include failure of markets to recognize the benefits of nature-based carbon sequestration, lack of adequate data and metrics to inform investment decisions, and misalignment between project structures, public processes, and investment needs. As a result, despite rapidly growing understanding of the need to fund nature-based climate and resilience projects, experts have identified a biodiversity funding gap in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

A new report released today by UC Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (CLEE) and the UCLA Law Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, Seeding Capital, proposes several policy solutions and innovations to tackle these challenges, including:

  • Aligning nature-based investment products with existing international standards and labels
  • Leveraging California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) mitigation to fund projects on natural and working lands
  • Standardizing accounting practices for measuring greenhouse gas impacts, environmental impacts, and community impacts
  • Conducting advance planning and permitting for multiple potential projects to create “portfolios” for grantors and investors to finance

The report is sponsored by Bank of America and informed by an expert stakeholder convening facilitated by the law schools. Ultimately, implementing these solutions will require consistent and strategic alignment among various sectors, including financial leaders, state and local leaders, philanthropy, and various utility districts, among others.

To discuss the report’s findings and recommendations to bolster investment in nature-based solutions, Berkeley and UCLA Law will host a free webinar on Wednesday, June 16 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM Pacific Time with an expert panel, including:

  • Newsha Ajami – Director of Urban Water Policy and Senior Research Scholar at Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
  • Amanda Hansen – Deputy Secretary for Climate Change at the California Natural Resources Agency
  • Zach Knight – CEO and Co-Founder of Blue Forest Conservation

You can RSVP for the webinar here.

Download the report here.

Reader Comments

One Reply to “Nature As A Carbon Sequestration Solution”

  1. Developing standards for carbon-offset markets should also be included in policy and financing solutions.

    A private-sector Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets estimates that carbon offsets could be worth $100 billion by the end of the decade, up from $300 million in 2018. These revenues fund carbon capture and sequestration projects that include natural solutions.

    However, the challenge is ensuring that offsets are not used to shield increased carbon emissions. Standards are necessary to acheive negative or net-zero carbon emissions.

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About Ethan

Ethan Elkind is the Director of the Climate Change and Business Program, with a joint appointment at UC Berkeley School of Law and UCLA School of Law. In this capacity, h…

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