Changes in land management can reduce global warming

Grant Boone
August 10, 2019

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.

Hans-Otto Portner, a panel leader from Germany, said: "It contradicts all the messages that are coming out of the report". "There's been increasing recognition about the climate change impacts on land and food, and there's a recognition that it's all-hands-on-deck".

Climate Change and Land's central finding is that land is a crucial resource on Earth - and it's got some serious problems.

"I think this report really underlines some of what we are experiencing right now in New Zealand - some of the choices that we are making about how we use our land. whether we use it for agriculture or if we plant more trees on it to absorb the emission from other sectors", Ms Wreford said.

"Western diets are one of the driving forces of deforestation in other parts of the world", she added.

IPCC co-chair Dr Debra Roberts said an upcoming report would examine the impact of urban design on climate change because cities have a disproportionate effect on climate change.

And the future could be worse.

The report noted that stability of food supply is projected to decrease as the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events increases. At 2°C of warming, the risks are even higher. Their aspiration was to limit warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (the world has already warmed 1 degree).

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The U.N. panel is the latest group of experts to grapple with a global conundrum: how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, deforestation and other land use without creating food shortages or displacing people whose livelihoods rely on practices that are unsustainable globally.

The UN report also suggests that people change their diets by moving to more plant-based foods, the production of which requires less land and energy than the meat-based, protein-heavy diet preferred by many North Americans. It would also make people more healthy, Rosenzweig said. "You wouldn't want to tell people what to eat, that would go down badly". To help address land-related climate change issues, we need to reduce overconsumption and wasting food, as well as stop burning or clearing forests, prevent over-harvesting of fuelwood and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing food waste can also help reduce a country's greenhouse gas footprint. He hopes that when the public and politicians see reports like this one they remember that food and agriculture are key factors in the fight against climate change. Amid recent reports that more than 820 million people are undernourished around the world, Co-chair of another Working Group, Jim Skea, highlighted the fact that up to 30 per cent of food is lost or wasted. Fixing that would free up millions of square kilometres of land.

"We can just consider that the land is warming at twice the speed of the average temperature of the Earth that scientists express when we talk about 1.5 or 2 degrees C", Verchot said.

From 8 percent to 10 percent of the human-made COemissions are connected to food loss and waste, according to the report.

A report released last month by the World Resources Institute finds that if current dietary patterns continue, an additional 593 million hectares - which is nearly twice the size of India - would be needed to feed the projected 9.8 billion people (the anticipated population) by 2050. "It's not going to continue forever".

Overall land emissions are increasing, especially because of cutting down forests in the Amazon in places such as Brazil, Colombia and Peru, Verchot said.

"These interests would kill us or lock us up so that our lands can be changed to fit whatever scheme has been concocted". They're clearing forests and grasslands, planting crops, grazing cattle. "One of our arguments is: Let's understand those trade-offs now and think about them, but also think about things that maybe would help us avoid those trade offs".

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