Canada’s Carbon Sink Potential

Summary

Canada’s forests, oceans, and landscapes provide more than just impressive vistas, natural resources, and places of recreation. As carbon sinks, they are vital to maintaining Earth’s carbon balance by soaking up some of our greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

Carbon sinks are natural systems ― plants, soils, aquatic and marine environments ― that absorb more carbon from the atmosphere than they release. These systems have the potential to help Canada meet its GHG targets under the 2015 Paris Agreement. But there are aspects of these complex systems that are still not fully understood, such as how much human-generated carbon these systems can continue to take up and for how long, and if they can be enhanced for additional carbon storage. Carbon sinks can also easily become sources of emissions, and climate change itself may prompt them to absorb ― or release ― more carbon than they did in the past.

This assessment will examine the potential for enhancing carbon storage in these types of systems to support climate change mitigation and adaptation planning in Canada.

The Sponsor:

Environment and Climate Change Canada

The Question

What is the potential for nature-based solutions to help meet Canada’s GHG emission reduction goals by enhancing carbon sequestration and storage, and reducing emissions, in managed and unmanaged areas (e.g., wetlands, agricultural and forest systems, harvested wood, and as blue (marine) carbon), and taking into account the major non-CO2 climate impacts that can be reliably estimated (e.g., non-CO2 GHG emissions, albedo, and aerosols)?

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