3 reasons why the land sector is key to a Paris climate agreement

Trees in a forest

The Paris climate agreement should incorporate the land sector, which includes agriculture and deforestation, in a way that makes best use of its potential for mitigation, adaptation and development. Credit: flickr/final gather

Land use—such as agriculture and forests—accounts for almost a quarter of all global greenhouse gas emissions on the planet.

It’s obvious that land use will play a major role in curbing the impact of climate change—and  here are three big reasons why the land sector will be key to an agreement made in Paris:

1) The land sector has huge mitigation potential:

The land sector accounts for about 24% of net global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. However, it has huge potential to reduce emissions, as well. Forests alone could absorb up to 11% of emissions. The IPCC also estimates that the land sector could provide 20-60% of cumulative mitigation by 2030. Without significant efforts to reduce emissions and enhance sequestration, it will be very difficult to stabilize warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

2) Forests and agriculture are important to adaptation and development:

The livelihoods of many people, especially small land holders and indigenous peoples, depend on the land sector. It will be essential to adapt agricultural practices to climate change to protect and increase food security. Forests also provide ecosystem services that agriculture depends on, such as rainfall and habitat for pollinators such as birds, bats, and butterflies. Forests can mute the effects of extreme weather events such as storms and landslides. The land sector also harbors most of the world’s biodiversity.

For more about the importance of forests to mitigation, adaptation and development, check out the report by Center for Global Development “Why Forests, Why Now.”

3) The land sector is politically important:

Almost every country can contribute to climate action in the land sector, so recognition of the sector will be important to ensure inclusiveness of an agreement.  Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) provides incentives for tropical forest developing countries to reduce emissions from forest loss. Countries around the world have worked hard to develop REDD+ over the last eight years since REDD was formalized in Bali. Developed countries have invested a significant amount of funding into REDD+, while tropical forest countries are developing state and national REDD+ programs.

The Paris agreement should incorporate the land sector in a way that makes best use of its potential for mitigation, adaptation and development.

Chris Meyer’s upcoming blog post will dive into the status of the land sector in the current negotiations text, and what the agreement needs and does not need to include.

This post is based off of a series of dialogues on the role of the land sector in the Paris agreement with negotiators, policy experts and most recently – alongside October’s UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany –  journalists. The dialogues are led by Environmental Defense Fund, Conservation International, Forest Trends, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Union of Concerned Scientists, and World Wildlife Fund.

This entry was posted in Agriculture, Deforestation, Forestry, Indigenous peoples, Paris, REDD+. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

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