Nature is Working Overtime to Reduce CO2 Emissions
The Paris Agreement came into force on November 4 and the EU has moved to ratify without major objections. Emerging and mature economies are also following through. Now, it appears, nature is stepping up the effort to curb CO2 emissions.
The surge in CO2 emission in the Earth’s atmosphere is being by plants working “overtime.” A new studypublished on Tuesday by the Nature Communications journal suggests that vegetation has increased its capacity to offset carbon emissions between 2002 and 2014.
Over the last half a century, the amount of CO2 absorbed by the Earth’s and ocean vegetation has doubled. But, the pace of human emissions is surging too fast for the ecosystem to keep up. Overall, the increased “productivity” of plants is estimated to have cut net emissions by 20%.
Studies earlier this year made clear CO2 favours greening and that a bigger area of the planet is covered by vegetation. However, the study suggests that CO2 also fertilizes plants and, as a result, plants are more “productive” in absorbing CO2.
The study does not show that there is a less urgent need to reduce emissions. If temperatures rise significantly, plants may begin to release bigger quantities of CO2 in respiration. The balance of the global ecosystem remains fragile.