Forest-based climate mitigation may occur through conserving and enhancing the carbon sink and through reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation. Yet the inclusion of forests in international climate agreements has been complex, often considered a secondary mitigation option. In the context of the Paris Climate Agreement, countries submitted their (Intended) Nationally Determined Contributions ((I)NDCs), including climate mitigation targets. Assuming full implementation of (I)NDCs, we show that land use, and forests in particular, emerge as a key component of the Paris Agreement: turning globally from a net anthropogenic source during 1990–2010 (1.3 ± 1.1 GtCO2e yr−1) to a net sink of carbon by 2030 (up to −1.1 ± 0.5 GtCO2e yr−1), and providing a quarter of emission reductions planned by countries. Realizing and tracking this mitigation potential requires more transparency in countries’ pledges and enhanced science-policy cooperation to increase confidence in numbers, including reconciling the ≍3 GtCO2e yr−1 difference in estimates between country reports and scientific studies.
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Author Jim Penman passed away recently. Jim Penman was the UK and EU negotiator on LULUCF for many years, coordinator of key IPCC methodological reports and credited as one of the key architects of the LULUCF process under the UNFCCC. He was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for his work. He was an outstanding scientist and negotiator, who strived always towards a better world.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Grassi, G., House, J., Dentener, F. et al. The key role of forests in meeting climate targets requires science for credible mitigation. Nature Clim Change 7, 220–226 (2017) doi:10.1038/nclimate3227
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