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 Climate Change

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​Through our nature-based approach, CI is demonstrating the important role that ecosystems can play in mitigating and adapting to climate change impacts.
Climate Facts
  • CI’s ultimate goal is the achievement of zero deforestation across the globe by 2030.
  • Intact forests and other natural ecosystems reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change impacts like floods and droughts.
  • A 1-meter (3.3-foot) sea level rise could flood 17 percent of Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest countries, displacing tens of millions of people and reducing the country's rice-farming land by 50 percent.
  • Reducing global deforestation by 50 percent by 2020 offers nearly one-third of the cost-effective, technologically available options to meet 450 parts per million stabilization targets.
  • Higher temperatures are expected to expand the range of certain dangerous "vector-borne" diseases, including malaria.
  • Reducing carbon concentrations to 350 parts per million would enable us to avert tipping points in climate change such as ocean acidification and the melting of permafrost and arctic ice.
  • Since 2007, CI has delivered climate and forest-carbon related trainings and workshops in more than 15 countries for approximately 800 participants.
  • About 25 percent of mammals and 12 percent of birds may become extinct over the next few decades, as warmer conditions alter their habitats and human development blocks them from migrating elsewhere.
  • Protecting an acre of rainforest reduces emissions as much as removing 14 cars from the road.
  • Changing weather patterns, rising sea levels and other climate change effects could decrease water availability by up to 50 percent in some locations.
  • Destruction of the world's tropical forests accounts for about 16 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions—more than all the world’s cars, trucks, ships, planes and trains combined.
  • The IPCC estimates that the average sea level will rise between 0.18 to 0.59 meters (0.6 and 2 feet) in the next century. Sea level rise is already contaminating freshwater supplies in Thailand, Israel, the Pacific Islands, China and Vietnam.
  • In some regions, such as the Amazon, the conversion of forests to other land uses is the single greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for at least 70 percent of total country emissions

Climate change is one of the greatest environmental issues of our time.

We need to act quickly and take advantage of existing solutions to prevent irreversible damage to our planet. Natural ecosystems provide significant opportunities to cut emissions dramatically and to preserve the adaptive potential of our biosphere.

Our goal : Curbing emissions and adapting to change

CI has designated climate security as one of our six main initiatives.

Each of our initiatives illustrates the deep links between humanity and nature and demonstrates the importance of an integrated approach to natural resource management.

Learn more about CI's other core initiatives

Many factors are contributing to climate change, from fossil fuel use to the burning and clearing of tropical forests. We need a comprehensive approach to reduce the impacts of climate change – an approach that decreases emissions across all sectors and enhances the adaptive capacity of all nations.

Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and stabilizing atmospheric concentrations at 350-450 parts per million CO2 equivalent (ppm CO2e) is essential. The current GHG level is approximately 390 ppm CO2e.

Scientists have estimated that lowering concentrations to 350 ppm may enable us to avert tipping points of ocean acidification and the melting of permafrost and arctic ice. Stabilization at 450 ppm is thought to be the threshold to avoid dangerous warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius, which would bring potentially catastrophic impacts for natural and human communities alike.

We are already seeing changing weather patterns impacting food production and species migration. Fresh water scarcity risks becoming even more acute in drought-stricken countries and flooding may increasingly threaten our coastal communities and directly impact hundreds of thousands of people each year. Conflict is increasing over strained ecosystems and local communities are being forced from their homes.

Solutions are needed now. Our ecosystems must be able to adapt to these changes so that they can retain productivity, continue to buffer extreme weather events and provide fresh water and a myriad of other services for all life on Earth. In addition, human communities need the knowledge and tools to effectively adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Our solution: Protection and sustainable management of natural ecosystems

Protecting the Earth's ecosystems can yield immediate, cost-effective climate change solutions that will be forever lost if we do not take immediate action.

For example, the burning and clearing of tropical forests is a major – though often unrecognized – source of greenhouse gas emissions. It accounts for roughly 16 percent of total global emissions, more than all of the world's cars, trucks, ships, trains and planes combined. It is now generally recognized that it will be impossible to achieve any of the needed targets for mitigating climate change without significantly curbing the clearing and burning of tropical forests. In fact, reducing global deforestation by 50 percent by 2020 offers nearly one-third of the cost-effective, technologically available options to meet 450 ppm stabilization targets.

In addition, intact forests and other natural ecosystems – including wetlands, peatlands, coral reefs and mangroves – also reduce the risk of catastrophic impacts like floods and droughts, contribute to food and freshwater security for both rural and urban communities, allow for species migration and ecological adaptation, and support the livelihoods of indigenous and local communities. Maintaining these ecosystems will ensure that humans and other species can remain as resilient as possible to the impacts of climate change.

LEARN MORE: CI's climate change solutions »

Our strategy: Cross-sector collaboration on a global scale

CI is:

  • Leading an effort to identify opportunities for effective mitigation and adaptation strategies in the places most sensitive to the impacts of climate change
  • Working with partners on the ground – including local community governments, indigenous groups and civil society – to design pilot mitigation and adaptation projects
  • Serving as a trusted advisor to the governments and stakeholders most in need of innovative policies and market mechanisms
  • Ensuring climate mitigation and adaptation strategies are handled economically, effectively, equitably and transparently

LEARN MORE: CI's strategies for mitigating climate change »

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