National mitigation potential from natural climate solutions in the tropics

Bronson W Griscom*, Jonah Busch, Susan C Cook-Patton, Peter W Ellis, Jason Funk, Sara M Leavitt, Guy Lomax, Will R Turner, Melissa Chapman, Jens Engelmann, Noel P Gurwick, Emily Landis, Deborah Lawrence, Yadvinder Malhi, Lisa Schindler Murray, Diego Navarrete, Stephanie Roe, Sabrina Scull, Pete Smith, Charlotte StreckWayne S Walker, Thomas Worthington

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Citations (Scopus)
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Better land stewardship is needed to achieve the Paris Agreement's temperature goal, particularly in the tropics, where greenhouse gas emissions from the destruction of ecosystems are largest, and where the potential for additional land carbon storage is greatest. As countries enhance their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement, confusion persists about the potential contribution of better land stewardship to meeting the Agreement's goal to hold global warming below 2°C. We assess cost-effective tropical country-level potential of natural climate solutions (NCS)-protection, improved management and restoration of ecosystems-to deliver climate mitigation linked with sustainable development goals (SDGs). We identify groups of countries with distinctive NCS portfolios, and we explore factors (governance, financial capacity) influencing the feasibility of unlocking national NCS potential. Cost-effective tropical NCS offers globally significant climate mitigation in the coming decades (6.56 Pg CO2e yr-1 at less than 100 US$ per Mg CO2e). In half of the tropical countries, cost-effective NCS could mitigate over half of national emissions. In more than a quarter of tropical countries, cost-effective NCS potential is greater than national emissions. We identify countries where, with international financing and political will, NCS can cost-effectively deliver the majority of enhanced NDCs while transforming national economies and contributing to SDGs. This article is part of the theme issue 'Climate change and ecosystems: threats, opportunities and solutions'.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20190126
Number of pages11
JournalPhilosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences
Issue number1794
Early online date27 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2020


  • natural climate solutions
  • climate mitigation
  • protection
  • land management
  • restoration
  • Paris Agreement
  • Climate mitigation
  • Land management
  • Restoration
  • Natural climate solutions
  • Protection


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