In light of these new findings, new policy strategies that offset greenhouse-gas emissions produced in energy-intensive sectors by ecosystem restoration and nature conservation measures would appear misleading and counterproductive. “In terms of climate policy, it makes no sense whatsoever to justify the continued emission of greenhouse gases with the argument that an existing forest isn’t cut down,” says Pörtner. “In the short term, the world needs to achieve drastic emissions reductions in order to stop the temperature rise, but at the same time, it needs to preserve and restore large, healthy ecosystems, which once emissions are down will allow us to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than is released by human activities. We should view the environment’s services as an additional resource, one that should be expanded on in the long term.”
This type of climate and nature conservation policy would have the best chances of success if, at the same time, there were major undertakings in the social context: “What we need to do is combat poverty worldwide and get rid of inequality. Due to their precarious social and financial circumstances, many people have no choice but to eke out a living with hunting, illegal fishing, gold mining or other activities that contribute to the wide-scale overexploitation of the environment. Freeing them from their plight would be an important contribution to sustainable climate and nature conservation,” Pörtner claims.