The Peril and Promise of Forests and Soils for Achieving the Paris Temperature Goals

Friday, February 17, 2017: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Room 313 (Hynes Convention Center)
The Paris Agreement on climate change sets a temperature goal “that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” Temperature increases must be less than 2°C above pre-industrial values and preferably less than 1.5°C. To meet the 2°C goal, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) proposed a maximum carbon budget that allows just 30 years of fossil fuel use at current rates. This budget is approximately equal to the known reserves of petroleum and less than the known reserves of coal and natural gas. However, even if all greenhouse gas emissions were to cease, temperatures achieved near the emissions peak would persist for the next millennium or longer. The IPCC notes that “a large net removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over a sustained period” is required. As this session will discuss, it is therefore essential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest and soil degradation, as well as the feedback response from warming soils and thawing permafrost. Failure to address these biospheric emissions would doom any attempt to meet the Paris temperature goals. A successful pathway toward meeting these goals can be achieved by combining three key elements: reduction of current greenhouse gas releases from forests and soils; reduction of energy and industrial emissions to zero; and simultaneous enhancement of greenhouse gas uptake from the atmosphere by forests and soils through restorative development.
William Moomaw, Tufts University
Scott Goetz, Woods Hole Research Center
William Moomaw, Tufts University
William Moomaw, Tufts University
Gordon Bonan, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Forests, Climate, and Public Policy: A 500-Year Interdisciplinary Odyssey
Susan Natali, Woods Hole Research Center
Warming Feedback From Permafrost
Frances Seymour, Center for Global Development
Potential for Enhancing Carbon Uptake by Forests and Soils
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