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Call for Evidence

Call for evidence

The House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee, under the Chairmanship of Lord Patel, is conducting an inquiry into Nature-based Solutions for Climate Change to assist in achieving the UK’s target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The committee invites written contributions by 23:59 on Thursday 30 September 2021.

Background

In recent years, there has been a renewed focus on nature-based solutions (NbS) to help address societal challenges, including climate change. These solutions are based on protecting, managing, restoring, or creating natural or modified ecosystems, on land or in marine environments. These techniques can mitigate climate change by absorbing greenhouse gases or reducing emissions from the land-use sector. They also aim to provide co-benefits, such as enhanced protection for biodiversity, improved health, water security, increased resilience to extreme weather events, and broader adaptation to climate change.

The UK is host to many natural ecosystems such as peatlands, seagrasses, and woodlands that have historically been degraded or lost. Following a recent methodology change, land use in the UK has now been identified as a net source of greenhouse gas emissions (Defra, 2019 UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Final Figures, 2 February 2021). This issue could worsen with additional climate change, although it may be possible to address land use emissions using nature-based solutions.

Successful implementation of nature-based solutions requires careful, site-specific planning, stakeholder engagement, financing and regulation. Systems must be created for accurately measuring, modelling, reporting and verifying the effects of interventions on ecosystems and carbon emissions. Nationally and internationally, concerns around financing, governance, and delivery of ambitious pledges must be addressed. The size of the potential mitigation contribution from nature-based solutions remains unclear.

The Committee seeks to understand the potential of nature-based solutions to contribute to Net Zero emissions in the UK; how nature-based solutions can fit into the UK’s broader land use, forestry and agricultural planning; and how policy can support the implementation of best-practice techniques to deliver nature-based solutions at scale.

Questions

The Committee is seeking evidence on the following questions (there is no requirement to answer all questions in your submission):

1. What is the potential scale of the contribution that nature-based solutions can make to decarbonisation in the UK?

  • Which ecosystems are most relevant to the UK for nature-based solutions, and which have the largest potential to sequester carbon or reduce emissions?
  • How much of the UK’s ‘hard-to-mitigate’ emissions can be offset by nature-based solutions? How much of the UK’s land and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) coastal areas would need to be managed to achieve this, and what level of investment would be required?
  • How do the costs and benefits (including co-benefits), of implementing nature-based solutions compare to other techniques for offsetting ‘hard-to-decarbonise’ sectors?

2. What major scientific uncertainties persist in understanding the effects of nature-based solutions and affect their inclusion in carbon accounting, and how can these uncertainties be addressed?

  • How reliable are the estimates of the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions reduction or sequestration by nature-based solutions, as well as the duration and reliability of storage?
  • Which bodies should be involved in establishing an agreed evidence base to inform best-practice techniques for restoring peatlands?
  • To what extent do we understand the capacity of the oceans and coastal ecosystems to sequester greenhouse gases through nature-based solutions?

3. What frameworks already exist for the regulation and financing of nature-based solutions?

  • What can be learned from the implementation of the Woodland and Peatland Codes for the regulation and financing of nature-based solutions?
  • Are there good examples of nature-based solutions already being undertaken in the UK or elsewhere, and what can we learn from them?
  • How should a hybrid public-private financing model be regulated? How should any carbon offsetting markets be regulated to ensure that they prioritise and support well-designed and effective nature-based solutions?
  • How can we ensure that the carbon accountancy is science-based, robust, and consistent across nature-based solutions?

4. Who are the key stakeholders for the implementation of nature-based solutions in the UK? How can stakeholders’ expertise and concerns inform the incentives and requirements for implementing nature-based solutions?

  • How can farmers (including tenant farmers) and land managers be supported in their deployment of nature-based solutions by policy and legislative frameworks?
  • Are there examples of projects which have engaged with stakeholders and local communities to implement nature-based solutions successfully, and what can we learn from them?

5. How should implementation of nature-based solutions be integrated with other government policies for landscapes and seascapes, for example, agricultural, forestry, and land-use planning policies?

  • How could nature-based solutions implementation contribute to the UK’s goals surrounding biodiversity, the preservation of nature, and adaptation to climate change?
  • Which ongoing governmental plans, policies, and strategies are relevant to nature-based solutions, and can they be better coordinated? For example, are the Nature for Climate Fund and associated targets for peatland and forestry restoration designed so as to support nature-based solutions?
  • Should incentives for nature-based solutions be included in future agri-environment schemes, and if so, how?

6. How should nature-based solutions be planned and monitored at the national level?

  • What measuring, reporting, and verification requirements should be put in place to determine the degree of success of nature-based solutions? Which techniques and technologies are best suited to accomplishing robust monitoring?

ANNEX: Guidance for Submissions

 

This is a public call for written evidence to be submitted to the Committee. The deadline for submissions is 23:59 on Thursday 30 September 2021.

Written submissions should be submitted online, as a Word document, using the written submission form available at https://committees.parliament.uk/submission/#/evidence/546/preamble. This page also provides guidance on submitting evidence. If you have difficulty submitting online, please contact the Committee staff by email at hlscience@parliament.uk or by telephoning 020 7219 5750.

Short, concise submissions are preferred. Scientific and technical content should be accessible to non-specialist readers. Responses should not be longer than four sides of A4 in size 12 font. There is no requirement to answer all questions in your submission. You may tell us about issues that we have not specifically asked about, but that are relevant to the topic of the inquiry.

All submissions made through the written submission form will be acknowledged automatically by email. Once you have received acknowledgement that the evidence has been accepted you will receive a further email, and at this point you may publicise or publish your evidence yourself. In doing so you must indicate that it was prepared for the Committee, and you should be aware that your publication or re-publication of your evidence may not be protected by parliamentary privilege.

Evidence which is accepted by the Committee may be published online at any stage; when it is so published it becomes subject to parliamentary copyright and is protected by parliamentary privilege. The Committee cannot accept any submissions that have not been prepared specifically in response to this call for evidence, or that have been published elsewhere.

Personal contact details will be removed from evidence before publication, but will be retained by the Committee Office and used for specific purposes relating to the Committee’s work, for instance to seek additional information.

Persons who submit written evidence, and others, may be invited to give oral evidence. Oral evidence is usually given in public at Westminster and broadcast online; transcripts are produced and published online. Persons invited to give oral evidence will be notified separately of the procedure to be followed and the topics likely to be discussed.

Substantive communications to the Committee about the inquiry should be addressed through the Clerk of the Committee, whether or not they are intended to constitute formal evidence to the Committee.

 This is a public call for evidence. Please bring it to the attention of other groups and individuals who may not have received a copy directly.

Diversity comes in many forms and hearing a range of different perspectives means that committees are better informed and can more effectively scrutinise public policy and legislation. Committees can undertake their role most effectively when they hear from a wide range of individuals, sectors or groups in society affected by a particular policy or piece of legislation. We encourage anyone with experience or expertise of an issue under investigation by a select committee to share their views with the committee, with the full knowledge that their views have value and are welcome. If you think someone you know would have an interest in contributing to the inquiry, please pass this on to them.

You may follow the progress of the inquiry at https://committees.parliament.uk/work/1294/naturebased-solutions-for-climate-change/.

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