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Climate Change Mitigation Requires Keeping Carbon in Soil

In the race to keep climate change in check, our soils are an important ally. A natural carbon sponge, they represent the earth’s largest terrestrial store of this essential, life-giving element.

And if we’re to meet the climate targets laid out in the Paris Agreement, then we must take advantage of the ability to sink carbon in soil, especially because this can offset harmful greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere.

But while we’re at the forefront of understanding how to make the most of soils to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, our research shows that we’ve still got a way to go before we can realize the full potential of long-term carbon storage – or carbon sequestration.

Before anything else, we need to be realistic about how much carbon our soils actually can store, how long this will take, how this changes from region to region, and how much this would contribute to climate change mitigation.

Ollivier Girard/CIFOR

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