What’s going on here?
A new study published in Nature Climate Change suggests that rewilding could have a bigger impact on climate change than previously thought. The study shows that protecting wild animals can act as a natural method for carbon capture and storage (CCS).
What does this mean?
The research shows that animals like whales, wolves, and sea otters can play a large role in trapping carbon so it doesn’t enter the atmosphere. Protecting the species studied in the report could potentially capture an additional 500 gigatons of CO2 by 2100. This is over 100 times more than could be captured by all of the currently operational industrial CCS facilities in the world.
Why should we care?
This new study adds to recent evidence that shows protecting wild landscapes is beneficial for fighting climate change. Reintroducing beavers and wolves to the northern United States would increase carbon storage and protect biodiversity. Protected forests have lower temperatures than forests with unrestricted human activity.
The IPCC report highlighted the need for CCS in mitigating the climate crisis. But existing technology for CCS is insufficient, prohibitively expensive, and may encourage more pollution on the assumption emissions are removed elsewhere. Natural solutions that help us remove carbon from the atmosphere without expensive and unproven technology may be valuable in helping reach global climate targets.