Biophysical and Economic Constraints on China’s Natural Climate Solutions

Nan Lu, Hanqin Tian, Bojie Fu*, Huiqian Yu, Shilong Piao, Shiyin Chen, Ya Li, Xiaoyong Li, Mengyu Wang, Zidong Li, Lu Zhang, Philippe Ciais, Pete Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)
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Natural climate solutions (NCS) are strategies for climate mitigation in the land sector that increase carbon storage or avoid GHG emissions. Here we estimate China's historic NCS mitigation at 0.6 (0.5-0.7) PgCO(2)e yr(-1) (95% CI) during 2000-2020 (8% of fossil CO2 emissions in the contemporary period). Through new NCS activities, the future maximum potential for NCS is projected at 0.6 (0.3-1.0) PgCO(2)e yr(-1) (6% of fossil CO2 emissions) during 2020-2030 and 1.0 (0.6-1.4) PgCO(2)e yr(-1) during 2020-2060. Of the future NCS potentials, 26-31%, 62-65% and 90-91% can be achieved at mitigation costs of US$10, US$50 and US$100 (MgCO(2)e)(-1), respectively. Thus, NCS can contribute substantially to China's Nationally Determined Contributions over the next 10 to 40 years but require a national strategy to reach climate goals and ensure co-benefits for people and nature.

Managing natural systems to mitigation climate change is a key strategy for limiting warming. In China, such natural climate solutions could offset 6% of CO2 emissions during 2020-2030, contributing to mitigation goals but highlighting the importance of emissions reductions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)847-853
Number of pages16
JournalNature Climate Change
Issue number9
Early online date18 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

B.F. and N.L. acknowledge financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41991230) and the National Key R&D Program of China (2017YFA0604700); H.T. acknowledges funding support from the National Science Foundation of the United States (grant no. 1903722) and Andrew Carnegie Fellowship Program (grant no. G-F-19-56910).

Data Availability Statement

Data availability
The base map is available from National Earth System Science Data Center, National Science and Technology Infrastructure of China ( All data generated or analysed during this study are provided with data sources in the Supplementary Information.

Code availability
We acknowledge the ArcMap Software version 10.6 (, R Software Foundation version R x64 4.0.3 ( and Python Software Foundation: Python Language Reference, version 3.7.7 (




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