8 August 2019
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released today, focuses on climate change and land, honing in on issues including desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management and food security.The report reveals that 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. Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II said, "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. Also, for the conservation and restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity.” We take a look at what some of our members are saying about the new report, from the importance of restoring natural habitats such as ancient woodlands to the action needed to support global food systems.
Access a summary of the report for policy makers here
"We need to see an urgent transformation in our land use."
Dr Stephen Cornelius, chief advisor on climate change and IPCC lead for WWF, said:
“This report sends a clear message that the way we currently use land is contributing to climate change, while also undermining its ability to support people and nature. We need to see an urgent transformation in our land use. Priorities include protecting and restoring natural ecosystems and moving to sustainable food production and consumption.
“Good land choices are fundamental to tackling the climate crisis. A shift to sustainable land management must be accompanied by the necessary rapid and deep cuts to fossil fuel emissions if we are to meet the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement. Action on one alone is not enough.”
The food sector alone is responsible for 75% of deforestation worldwide, with the greatest pressure on forests taking place in the tropics. It is also a major driver of savannah and grassland conversion.
Climate change is already affecting the four pillars of food security - availability, access, utilisation and stability - through increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns and greater frequency of some extreme events.
“Delayed action will increase the risk of climate change impacts on food security. Those most at risk are the world’s poorest.
“Early action to address the climate crisis has the potential to provide multiple co-benefits across the whole range of land challenges, with many options contributing positively to sustainable development and other societal goals,” added Cornelius.
In response to the report, Patrick Begg, National Trust's Director of Outdoors and Natural Resources, said:
“One of the biggest opportunities to be seized is through the large-scale creation and restoration of natural habitats like native woodlands, peatlands and mudflats that can store carbon and provide new habitats for nature. In places such as the Peak District, we’re returning peatlands that were previously drained into resilient eco-systems that will reduce emissions and provide a home for scarce species.
“As a major landowner, the National Trust is determined, in partnership with our farm tenants, to be at the forefront of showing how restoring nature and adopting nature-friendly farming can play a major role in capturing carbon. This is starting with our commitment to create or restore 25,000 hectares of habitat by 2025.
“If the UK Government is to play a world-leading role for the environment and is to meet the new net zero target by 2050 then it needs to provide the funding and legislation that will restore nature, starting with the Agriculture Bill and a much stronger Environment Bill."
Aditi Sen, Oxfam’s senior climate policy advisor, said:
“Land is central to the fight against the climate crisis and hunger. Industrial agriculture, deforestation and increasing weather shocks are destroying the land we depend on for food, with the world’s poorest hit hardest.
“We need to put a stop to destructive industrial agriculture and invest in agro-ecological approaches that store carbon, improve soil health and increase yields. Governments must also invest in smallholder famers and uphold the rights of people to their land and forests, so that poor communities on the frontline of the climate crisis are able to feed themselves now and in the future.
“Politicians must aim for zero hunger as well as zero emissions. They must reject false solutions that divert land away from growing food and into producing crops and trees for energy and carbon capture.”
Fit for the Future are supporting our member organisations to become climate-friendly, adaptive and resilient, including ways to manage land sustainably and lower environmental impacts across the board. Our upcoming annual members event, the Network Harvest, is an opportunity for members to share practical solutions and ideas to tackle the challenges of climate change collaboratively. Find out more about this event, and how to become part of Fit for the Future.