During the 2019 election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined teen activist Greta Thunberg at the Climate Strike in Montreal, where he promised that his Liberal government would plant two billion trees over the next 10 years. This pledge is a $3 billion effort to harness the power of nature to fight climate change and reach net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. Net-zero GHG emissions are balanced by absorbing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere.
Adding two billion new trees could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by millions of tonnes annually. A hectare of mature trees, for example, can remove up to 6.4 tonnes of emissions per year from the atmosphere. This is the equivalent of driving 30,000 kilometres in a mid-sized car. The program would also help restore and protect our forests, grasslands, agricultural lands, wetlands and coastal natural areas, which help clean our air, safeguard our water, and provide crucial wildlife habitat. Along with the environmental benefits, the program may also help our economy. The federal government estimates that 3,500 seasonal tree planting jobs will be created to grow and plant the young trees.
It is important to note that these new trees, which are promised to be planted by 2030, are not meant to replace trees that are cut down by timber companies or cities, but will add to the current tree count. There must also be careful planning, implementation and monitoring of this program to ensure we do not replace land that is already forested, or wetlands that are essential for water irrigation, flood prevention, and water filtration. Trees also need to be planted in places where they can survive and flourish. This means planting in geographically suitable areas as well as considering the future climatic conditions of those areas. Trees planted today will still be standing in 80 to 120 years, which means there needs to be consideration for how climate change will impact the future temperature and precipitation in the places where these trees are planted.
You can learn more about this program on the Liberal Government’s website.
The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt, and increase resilience, to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May, Pulkit Garg and Sam Gauthier) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Photo Caption: Planting two billion trees by 2030 will be a crucial step towards achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.