Land under pressure from humans, climate change: IPCC

Chennai: 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 degrees Celsius 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 approved by the world’s governments on Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland.

It 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 in September and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Santiago in 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, said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee.

“This is the first time in IPCC report history that a majority of authors — 53 per cent — are from developing countries.” This report shows that better land management can contribute to tackling climate change, but it 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 degrees Celsius, if not 1.5 degrees.

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 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees.

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. Land is a critical resource, says the IPCC report.

NT Bureau