Land is a critical resource, IPCC report says

GENEVA, Land is already under growing human pressure and climate change is adding to these pressures. At the same time, keeping global warming to well below 2�C can be achieved only by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors including land and food, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,IPCC, said in its latest report on Thursday.

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, saw the Summary for Policymakers of The Special Report on Climate Change and Land, SRCCL, approved by the world’s governments on Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland, will be a key scientific input into forthcoming climate and environment negotiations, such as the Conference of the Parties of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification,COP14, in New Delhi, India in September and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference, COP25, in Santiago, Chile, in December.

“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. This is the first time in IPCC report history that a majority of authors � 53 percent � are from developing countries,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.

This report shows that better land management can contribute to tackling climate change, but is not the only solution. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors is essential if global warming is to be kept to well below 2�C, if not 1.5oC.

In 2015, governments backed the Paris Agreement goal of strengthening the global response to climate change by holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2�C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5�C.

Land must remain productive to maintain food security as the population increases and the negative impacts of climate change on vegetation increase. This means there are limits to the contribution of land to addressing climate change, for instance through the cultivation of energy crops and afforestation. It also takes time for trees and soils to store carbon effectively. Bioenergy needs to be carefully managed to avoid risks to food security, biodiversity and land degradation. Desirable outcomes will depend on locally appropriate policies and governance systems.

Climate Change and Land finds that the world is best placed to tackle climate change when there is an overall focus on sustainability.

“Land plays an important role in the climate system,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.

“Agriculture, forestry and other types of land use account for 23 percent 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 shows how managing land resources sustainably can help address climate change, said Hans-Otto PAlrtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

“Land already in use could feed the world in a changing climate and provide biomass for renewable energy, but early, far-reaching action across several areas is required” he said. “Also for the conservation and restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity.”

Source: Emirates News Agency