Capturing carbon: will it be enough?

Can we sequester enough carbon to avoid cutting emissions?
31 August 2021

Interview with 

Ruth Gregg, Natural England


A forest of tall, thin trees lit by sunlight


So many of the habitats in Cambridgeshire and the UK have the potential to help us fight the climate crisis. But will it be enough? Sally Le Page spoke with Natural England’s Ruth Gregg...

Ruth - So modelling has shown that we can look to sequester around 9 to 10% of our emissions by 2030. So it's a significant chunk, but it's not a silver bullet.

Sally - And how much of the land would we need to convert for that 10%?

Ruth - So what the climate change committee has put forward - that we're going to need to see around 20% of land that's currently in agricultural production set aside for climate change mitigation approaches. So that's a significant amount.

Sally - Do you think it's possible?

Ruth - I think it has to be possible! I think we have to be really ambitious and really positive and optimistic in how we look at how we change our land use for climate change. We don't have an alternative. So we have to be really optimistic in how we approach this. And when we say 20% set aside for agricultural production, that doesn't mean that we can't still use that land. We just have to be mindful that we're bringing in approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and capture carbon.

Sally - Obviously this show has been thinking all about carbon. Is carbon the be-all and end-all?

Ruth - Carbon isn't the be-all and end-all! It's an incredibly important part of the issue. So nature-based solutions offer huge benefits in terms of carbon capture and can support climate change mitigation. But that's just a small part of the puzzle. The bigger picture is that it makes society a much nicer place to live in, a nicer environment to be in. It gives us water regulation in terms of flood risk management, water quality, air quality benefits. It's great in terms of recreation and cultural heritage. So yes, nature-based solutions offer such a huge amount of benefits that they very much should be on the table as we look to tackle climate change into the future.


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