To fight climate change, pay attention also to land

12 August, 2019, 20:11 | Author: Darnell Taylor
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The report said climate change already has worsened land degradation, caused deserts to grow, permafrost to thaw and made forests more vulnerable to drought, fire, pests and disease.

"Policies that enable and incentivise sustainable land management for climate change adaptation and mitigation include improved access to markets for inputs, outputs and financial services, empowering women and indigenous peoples, enhancing local and community collective action, reforming subsidies and promoting an enabling trade system".

A 1,200 page report released this week by the United Nations' International Panel on Climate Change warned that the world's land and water resources are being exploited at "unprecedented rates", threatening the global food supply as climate change continues to add additional pressure.

The UN Climate Action Summit will take place in New York City on 23 September 2019, to increase ambition and accelerate action on the global climate emergency and support the rapid implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

"The window for making these changes is closing fast".

As governments take note and communities, worldwide organizations and agribusiness act to implement society-wide changes to rapidly shift to sustainable food production and land use, we, as individuals also need to do our part.

In a almost 60-page summary for policymakers, the IPCC said that since the pre-industrial period, land surface air temperature has already risen by 1.53 degrees Celsius - twice as much as the global average temperature (0.87 C).

Human use directly affects more than 70 per cent of the global, ice-free land surface and agriculture accounts for 70 per cent of freshwater use.

"This transformation will not be easy", said Steiner, "but it is necessary and it is possible".

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It projects a median increase of 7.6% in cereal prices by 2050, meaning higher food prices and an increased risk of hunger.

It also notes that changes in consumption patterns have contributed to about 2 billion adults now being overweight or obese and that an estimated 821 million people are still undernourished.

Per capita supply of vegetable oils and meat has more than doubled based on data since 1961 but now, 25-30 per cent of total food produced is lost or wasted.

"The choices we make about sustainable land management can help reduce, and in some cases, reverse these adverse impacts", said Kiyoto Tanabe, Co-Chair of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories.

Yields of crops such as maize and wheat have declined in some regions, while those of maize, wheat and sugar beets have increased in other regions in recent decades.

Many believe transitioning to a more plant based diet could help, but others say just being more conscientious about where your food comes from is a step in the right direction.

While forests can soak up heat-trapping gases from the atmosphere, desertification and deforestation can amplify warming due to the loss of vegetation cover and soil erosion. Brazil, which holds 40 percent of Earth's rainforests, has been increasing efforts to clear them in the name of development under the administration of current president Jair Bolsonaro.

"What instead this report is trying to do - and I hope is successful in achieving - is to, yes, lay out the consequences of inaction, but also then highlight the many opportunities we have for action and the co-benefits this has for livelihoods, for water".

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