Radical land management shift needed to tackle climate crisis – IPCC

Humanity must radically overhaul the way it manages land and consumes food in order to avoid environmental disaster, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned.

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In a report published today, IPPC scientists from over 50 countries offer the most comprehensive assessment of the link between climate breakdown and land management.

They warn that humans must shift away from large-scale industrial agriculture and eliminate food waste to avoid disaster, and reduce meat consumption, end deforestation and restore ecosystems too.

The report also explains how exceeding 1.5˚C of global warming above pre-industrial levels would most likely exacerbate food insecurity, poverty, migration and conflict.

WWF’s IPCC lead, Dr Stephen Cornelius, said: “This report sends a clear message that the way we use land is contributing to climate change while undermining its ability to support people and nature.

“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 is responsible for 75% of deforestation worldwide, releasing carbon into the atmosphere while contributing to unprecedented biodiversity loss and land degradation.

At the same time, farmers are already seeing their productivity and revenues take a hit due to more frequent droughts, floods, heat waves and wildfires, with some unable to adapt.

Failure to limit global warming is likely to worsen existing risks and increase desertification, decrease crop and livestock productivity and reduce the nutrient content of plants, according to the report.

This comes after separate research released earlier this week showed that the top 10 most food insecure countries generate just 0.08% of global carbon emissions.

The IPCC scientists said that efforts to mitigate climate change and nature loss must go hand-in-hand, and be fully integrated with adaptation and food security considerations.

“Delayed action will increase the risk of climate change impacts on food security – those most at risk are the world’s poorest," Cornelius continued.

“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."

 

Image credit: Shutterstock

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