The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a new report today showing that better land management could help tackle climate change, but it won’t be enough by itself to keep global warming in check.
Called “Climate Change and Land,” the report says that keeping global warming under 2ºC can be achieved only by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors — including land and food.
“Agriculture, forestry and other types of land use account for 23% of human greenhouse gas emissions,” said Jim Skea, co-chair of IPCC Working Group III. “At the same time, natural land processes absorb carbon dioxide equivalent to almost a third of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry.”
Kiyoto Tanabe, co-chair of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, said that sustainable land management is a way to protect communities from the detrimental effects of soil erosion in a future where this risk on croplands increases. “However there are limits to what can be done, so in other cases degradation might be irreversible,” he said.
Maria Lettini, director of the $16 trillion FAIRR investor network, said the new IPCC report reinforces the urgent need for action from all actors in the global food system.
“Companies must start evaluating their exposure to, and their impact from, the use of animal protein in their product portfolios in order to build strategies around emission reduction targets across their vast supply chains,” she said. “What we do know from FAIRR’s conversations with companies is that many are working towards diversifying their ingredient portfolios and increasing their products offerings to include more plant-based ingredients, many of which are less climate intensive.”
Environmental nonprofit organization leaders also responded to the report. “Today’s report is a clarion call for protecting nature everywhere, for everyone,” said Diane Regas, president and CEO of the Trust for Public Land.
Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, chief program officer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, commented, “We must move quickly to transform the way we produce and consume food and to protect and restore natural ecosystems like forests.”
According to the United Nations, the new report will be a key scientific input into forthcoming climate and environment negotiations, including COP14 in New Delhi, India, this September and COP25 in Santiago, Chile, in December. The report could also influence corporate policies. A summary is available here.