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Altering land use a critical part of the climate solution

Land

09 Aug 2019 

The ways in which global businesses are using land are a "major contributor" to climate change and must be radically transformed if the aims of the Paris Agreement are to be met, says a landmark report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC – the world body for assessing the state of scientific knowledge related to climate change, its impacts and potential future risks, and possible response options – has released a report this week that shows that better land management can contribute to tackling climate change, but it is not the only solution. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors is essential if global warming is to be kept to well below 2ºC.

The report, based on thousands of scientific papers, was prepared by 107 experts from 52 countries. ‘Governments challenged the IPCC to take the first ever comprehensive look at the whole land-climate system. We did this through many contributions from experts and governments worldwide’ said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.

The report shows how managing land resources sustainably, and transforming the way the world produces food can help address climate change. ‘Land plays an important role in the climate system,’ said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of an IPCC Working Group.

‘Agriculture, forestry and other types of land use account for 23% of human greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time natural land processes absorb carbon dioxide equivalent to almost a third of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry,’ he said.

The report sets out options to tackle land degradation, and prevent or adapt to further climate change. It also examines potential impacts from different levels of global warming.

‘There are things we are already doing. We are using technologies and good practices, but they do need to be scaled up and used in other suitable places that they are not being used in now,’ said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I. ‘There is real potential here through more sustainable land use, reducing over-consumption and waste of food, eliminating the clearing and burning of forests, preventing over-harvesting of fuelwood, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, thus helping to address land related climate change issues,’ he said.

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