The UN’s climate report highlights the dangers of natural solutions

But a UN report warns that large amounts of land will be needed to plant enough crops to remove significant levels of carbon dioxide. It can conflict with efforts to produce food for a growing population and can put additional strain on animal and plant species. One study noted that converting enough soil to avoid 2 સે C warming could change the range of most European bird species from climate change to a temperature of 4 સે C.

Numerous groups, including the Trillion Trees Initiative, have also highlighted the potential for tree planting as a tool to combat climate change. Various regions and organizations allow landowners and businesses to buy and sell carbon offsets as part of such efforts.

The report notes that planting trees in previously forested areas has multiple benefits. But planting trees where they do not grow naturally can adversely affect the environment, he warns.

Growing trees in natural open meadows can reduce the flow of water in rivers and increase the intensity of fires. It can also contribute to global warming, as grass removes more heat than forests. Similarly, draining the peatland for the purpose of planting trees can release large amounts of greenhouse gases from this rich natural carbon sink.

The authors note that to minimize downsides, local contexts and conditions will need to be carefully considered to ensure that these greenhouse gases can be reliably removed. The findings also underscore the importance of pursuing a variety of approaches to carbon removal, including emerging technological methods such as direct air capture and the use of a variety of minerals.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the world will need to eliminate massive amounts of greenhouse gases in the coming decades – and we still do not know how to do it cheaply, efficiently or reliably anywhere near the required scale.

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