The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) launched the five-year, $20-million Natural Climate Solutions Special Initiative in 2015, with the aim to promote “natural climate solutions” – the capacity of ecosystems to absorb and store carbon (i.e., biosequestration) as an effective means to mitigate climate change. The initiative is underpinned by the scientific community’s assessment that it will not be feasible to limit global warming to 2°C without improving how we conserve and use land to maintain and enhance biosequestration of carbon, and that nature is the most readily available, cost-effective mechanism for removing carbon from the atmosphere. Under this premise, DDCF seeks to broaden understanding of natural climate solutions as an essential means to achieving climate change mitigation targets, accelerate the deployment of natural climate solutions and help put the U.S. on a trajectory to offset 30-50% of its emissions with land-based carbon sinks by the year 2050.
To achieve these goals, DDCF endeavors to bring three interventions to scale:
- Protecting intact ecosystems, including forests, grasslands and wetlands;
- Restoring ecosystems through methods such as planting trees, restoring salt marshes and re-wetting peatlands; and
- Improving land management, including on farms, ranches and forests used for timber extraction.
Below are the approaches DDCF is taking to achieve these objectives:
1. Improve the Science and Quantification of Natural Climate Solutions. DDCF supports research and tools that refine estimates of natural climate solutions’ potential to reduce emissions and increase biosequestration, and to improve our ability to monitor land-sector emissions. In particular, we have supported studies led by The Nature Conservancy and others that analyzed 20 natural climate solutions “pathways” to generate the first comprehensive global projections of climate mitigation from the land-use sector and a companion estimate for the United States. The foundation also supports efforts to improve the U.S. land-sector greenhouse gas emission inventory system and develop tools for communities to inventory forests and carbon.
2. Demonstrate Natural Climate Solutions. Implementing scalable approaches to restoration and sustainable forest management that develop the potential of the “restoration economy” is an essential step toward mainstreaming natural climate solutions. DDCF supports projects that can activate restoration at the thousands to millions of acres scale, and is providing incubation funding for such projects through the Natural Climate Solutions Accelerator, launched in 2018 by The Nature Conservancy in partnership with American Forests and American Forest Foundation.
3. Accelerate restoration of Public Lands. In the U.S., a significant proportion of the nation’s natural areas lie within federal or state control and hold a significant opportunity to restore, reforest or manage for increased biosequestration. Among other efforts, DDCF supports work to accelerate the pace of restoration and reforestation on the National Forest System.
4. Action in the U.S. by States and Other Subnational Polities. DDCF seeks to enable and accelerate efforts by states and communities to integrate national climate solutions into their climate strategies, including the development of policies, programs and incentives that prompt deployment of natural climate solutions in the forestry and agricultural sectors. On this front, DDCF supports the U.S. Climate Alliance’s Natural and Working Lands Challenge.
5. Innovative Finance, Markets and Investment. The power of market-driven approaches and new sustainable business models that spark a restoration economy are important drivers for increasing investment in natural climate solutions. To build momentum in this area, DDCF supports efforts that create alignment between market forces, incentives for carbon sequestration and other co-benefits, and new investment vehicles for attracting private capital. For example, DDCF supported the World Resources Institute to conduct a global survey of viable restoration business models and develop the business case for natural climate solutions investments.
6. Broadening the Movement. DDCF supports strategic communications and coordinated efforts to raise the profile of natural climate solutions, primarily through the Nature4Climate coalition and its partner organizations.
7. Increase International Ambition and Implementation. On a limited basis, DDCF has supported efforts to scale natural climate solutions globally through efforts to increase nations’ mitigation ambition, raise the profile of natural climate solutions and accelerate inclusion of natural climate solutions in countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. (Please note that DDCF does not anticipate additional grantmaking toward efforts outside the U.S.)