Global variation in the cost of increasing ecosystem carbon

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Slowing the reduction, or increasing the accumulation, of organic carbon stored in biomass and soils has been suggested as a potentially rapid and cost-effective method to reduce the rate of atmospheric carbon increase1. The costs of mitigating climate change by increasing ecosystem carbon relative to the baseline or business-as-usual scenario has been quantified in numerous studies, but results have been contradictory, as both methodological issues and substance differences cause variability2. Here we show, based on 77 standardized face-toface interviews of local experts with the best possible knowledge of local land-use economics and sociopolitical context in ten landscapes around the globe, that the estimated cost of increasing ecosystem carbon varied vastly and was perceived to be 16-27 times cheaper in two Indonesian landscapes dominated by peatlands compared with the average of the eight other landscapes. Hence, if reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) and other land-use mitigation efforts are to be distributed evenly across forested countries, for example, for the sake of international equity, their overall effectiveness would be dramatically lower than for a cost-minimizing distribution.

DOI:
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-017-0015-7
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