Nature is a powerful ally in tackling climate change. Yet it does not receive the attention it deserves in the debate about how to accomplish a transition towards a zero net emission society. Natural ecosystems such as forests, soils and peatlands are the most sophisticated and effective solution we have for capturing and storing CO2, writes Luc Bas, Director, IUCN European Regional Office.To limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to achieve the EU net zero carbon emissions target for 2050 as proposed by the European Parliament, the largescale removal of CO2 from the atmosphere will be absolutely crucial.The Paris Agreement emphasises the role of ecosystems in both climate change mitigation and adaptation. The Agreement calls on countries to appropriately conserve and enhance natural carbon sinks and reservoirs of all types – biomass, forests and oceans as well as other terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems – in order to fully harness their mitigation potential. It acknowledges the key role of sinks in achieving the goal of reaching climate neutrality, i.e. zero net emissions, in the second half of the century, and recognises that socioeconomic and ecological resilience can be built through the sustainable management of natural resources.Disruptive approaches to climate change mitigation such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, have been discussed as one potential way to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement. However, indications are that this approach would consume land on an enormous scale and lead to large-scale land-use changes in tropical regions with weak governance, high biodiversity and high terrestrial carbon stock.A recent study by the Nature Conservancy on natural climate solutions explores opportunities to reduce emissions and store carbon in the world’s forests, grasslands and wetlands, the enormous potential of which is being demonstrated thanks to remote sensing technologies. The publication states that, worldwide, natural climate solutions could reduce emissions by 11.3 billion tonnes per year by 2030, and thus deliver 37% of cost-effective CO2 mitigation by 2030.