Can ‘nature-based solutions’ help address climate change?

These so-called “nature-based solutions” are key to many countries’ and companies’ plans to achieve net-zero in the coming decades. Nature-based solutions also featured more prominently than before at the UN’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow last month. The term briefly made an appearance in a draft of what became the Glasgow Climate Pact and, following UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s mantra of “coal, cars, cash and trees”, countries at the summit made several headline-grabbing pledges aimed at halting deforestation. But these “nature-based solutions” are not without their critics. Some argue that the very concept of nature as a tool reduces and obscures its inherent value. Others reject the term and warn that its vagueness leaves it open to deliberate misuse. In this explainer, Carbon Brief examines the history of the term “nature-based solutions”, the debates surrounding their effectiveness and the place they currently hold in global climate negotiations.