‘Natural infrastructure’ could save billions a year in response to climate crisis | Climate crisis
Planting trees, restoring wetlands, mangroves and other natural means of protecting the environment from the impacts of the climate crisis could save hundreds of billions of dollars per year and replace high carbon infrastructure , according to research.
Planting trees helps protect land from floods and landslides, mangroves protect against sea level rise and storm surges, and wetlands act like sponges to soak up excess of water. These forms of “natural infrastructure”, or nature-based solutions, have the added benefit of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, acting as natural carbon sinks.
But these natural alternatives to built infrastructure such as dikes and flood barriers are often overlooked and unfunded.
A study released Monday by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) found that using natural infrastructure to protect against climate degradation could save up to $ 248 billion (£ 180 billion) per year worldwide, which costs only about half of the equivalent built infrastructure and provides the same protection.
Nature-based solutions also tend to be cheaper to maintain, while creating local jobs and additional benefits such as helping clean up air and water pollution, improving wildlife habitats. and restore natural ecosystems. Mangroves, for example, serve as nurseries for fish, benefiting local fisheries, and attract other wildlife, but about a third of these have been uprooted or damaged globally in recent decades by development research.
More than $ 4 billion in new infrastructure is needed globally each year, more than a tenth of which could be met using nature-based solutions, according to the report.
Building new infrastructure to protect against the ravages of global warming – in the form of heat waves, drought, flooding, sea level rise and more severe storms – is now urgently needed, as weather conditions continue. extremes are taking hold all over the world. Funding for adaptation measures is lacking, however, and initiatives such as the restoration of wetlands, peatlands and other natural features are difficult to finance as the benefits are often diffuse.
Rich countries are supposed to provide at least $ 100 billion a year to developing countries in climate finance to help them reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cope with the impacts of extreme weather conditions. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for half of this funding to be spent on adaptation measures.
The UK government, which hosts the Cop26 climate summit which opens in Glasgow on October 31, is emphasizing nature-based solutions in talks, and new funding and a variety of innovative projects are expected to be announced .
Liesbeth Casier, Senior Policy Advisor at IISD, said: “Improving adaptation is really important, and nature can play a big role in that. Governments should be more aware of the role nature can play, but we often do not value natural infrastructure in the same way as built infrastructure. This must change.
“The Cop26 places nature much more at the center of the solutions, and we hope that this opportunity will be seized, because the advantages are multifaceted. “