In a commentary piece, Put More Carbon in Soils to Meet Paris Climate Pledges, published today by the journal Nature, climate change and agricultural scientists who serve on the science and technical committee of the organization 4 per 1000 describe a path for recuperating soil carbon stocks to mitigate climate change and boost soil fertility. The scientists suggest that the KJWA formally commit to increasing global soil organic carbon stocks through coordination and activities related to eight steps.
The eight steps are:
1. Stop carbon loss – Protect peatlands through enforcement of regulations against burning and drainage.
2. Promote carbon uptake – Identify and promote best practices for storing carbon in ways suitable to local conditions, including through incorporating crop residues, cover crops, agroforestry, contour farming, terracing, nitrogen-fixing plants, and irrigation.
3. Monitor, report and verify impacts – Track and evaluate interventions with science-based harmonized protocols and standards.
4. Deploy technology – Use high-tech opportunities for faster, cheaper and more accurate monitoring of soil carbon changes.
5. Test strategies – Determine what works in local conditions by using models and a network of field sites.
6. Involve communities – Employ citizen science to collect data and create an open online platform for sharing.
7. Coordinate policies – Integrate soil carbon with national climate commitments to the Paris Agreement and other policies on soil and climate.
8. Provide support – Ensure technical assistance, incentives to farmers, monitoring systems, and carbon taxes to promote widespread implementation.
A joint forum for coordinated action and funding to close research gaps is needed, the scientists argue. The eight steps also inform the KJWA’s next workshop (June 2019), which will address soil carbon.