A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlights the ways we can use land to respond and adapt to the changing world around us.The report explores how the way we use our land contributes to climate change, how climate change affects our land, and how land use offers solutions to climate change. It was prepared by 107 leading scientists from 52 countries, and over 7,000 papers were assessed in the report.
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 2ºC.
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.
John Piotti, American Farmland Trust president and CEO, said,“Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its report on Climate Change and Land Use, and we were not surprised. In last year’s report, we had confirmation from the global scientific community that we must put carbon back into the soil if we have any chance of meeting the Paris climate goals. In today’s report, we have further confirmation and clarity.
“In this morning’s press conference, the IPCC summarized — land is under pressure and land is part of the solution, with agriculture playing a key role. This is correct. And it will not just be about how we farm. It will require a holistic approach that harnesses the land, the practices and the people of farming, an approach my organization has embraced for over 40 years.
“Land and soils are being lost or degraded and climate change is further exacerbating the pressure on land — that’s the challenging news. The good news is that agriculture and natural and working-land solutions in themselves offer the most promising possibility to save our society providing ‘cost effective, immediate and long-term benefits.’ Much of this work is already underway, it just needs to be scaled up. But as the IPCC emphasizes, we must act early because, ‘All assessed modeled pathways that limit warming to 1.5°C or well below 2°C require land-based mitigation and land-use change.’
“AFT has been and will continue to do the work that is needed to see humanity through to safety – saving farmland from development, helping farmers implement regenerative practices and keeping farmers on the land to do what they do best on behalf of our society.
“It is true that agriculture is an industry where much reform is needed. It is also true that our farmland and ranchland may be our only hope for a sustainable future.”