The Biden administration has announced plans to incorporate nature-based solutions into a wide range of U.S. policies, as a major global climate change conference gets underway in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. 

John Podesta, chair of President Joe Biden’s national climate change task force, released the Nature-Based Solutions roadmap at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) conference on Nov. 8. Nature-based projects seek to mimic or work with natural processes and systems, and are often used at military bases and communities in coastal, flood-prone or low-lying areas. 

The roadmap includes a commitment of $25 billion in federal infrastructure and climate funding to support nature-based solutions, a new guide for using nature to enhance military base resilience and a new technical working group to consider nature-based options in benefit-cost analyses when making decisions about flood control and other projects.

A day earlier at COP 27, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunaki announced a series of steps that Britain is taking to reduce emissions—including nearly $7.5 million for a Clean Energy Innovation facility to provide grants to accelerate development of clean technology in developing countries. The U.K also plans to triple funding for climate adaptation efforts, from about $571 million in 2019 to $1.71 billion in 2025. 


Implementation Phase

Despite a flurry of announcements, the conference focus has shifted from negotiating target reductions to delivering on promises, say several groups that are attending its series of meetings.

“This is the first COP [that has been] at the forefront of the pivot from negotiations to implementation,” Kaveh Guilanpour, vice president for international strategies at C2ES, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, told reporters Nov. 4. With enactment of the Paris climate agreement in 2015, and subsequent meetings culminating in Glasgow, Scotland last year, “there’s no real big treaty negotiations left. What we are faced with is the very hard work of actually implementing promises made.” 

Although the U.S. and other countries have stepped up since 2021 to implement policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a gap still exists between the trajectory that countries are on and where they need to be to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5° C—the point above which scientists have said would be beyond catastrophic.

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres called climate change  “the defining issue of our age,” In opening remarks on Nov. 7. “Today’s crisis cannot be an exercise in blacksliding or greenwashing. If anything, [it] is reason for greater urgency, stronger action and effective accountability.” 

C2ES President Nat Keoane said in his firm's Nov. 4 press call that enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act in the U.S. "without question is a major step in the right direction to drive technlogy innovation, development and deployment that it needs to meet our 2030 targets."

But even that climate-change mitigation funding law, combined with other domestic policies, is only projected to reduce emissions by 32% to 42% below 2005 levels by 2030—not the 50% pledged by the administration in April 2021. "More will need to be done to get us all the way to 50%," he said.