August 8, 2019 / 9:03 PM / 2 months ago

EXPERT VIEWS-U.N. climate and land report flags need for 'new and healthy balance'

BARCELONA, Aug 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Climate change is damaging the world’s land, causing crop losses and forest fires in some areas, while human activities are putting pressure on natural ecosystems and fuelling global warming, the United Nations’ science body warned on Thursday.

In a special report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that keeping global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F), as governments agreed in 2015, could be achieved only by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors, including land and food.

Reducing meat consumption and eating more plant-based foods like vegetables and fruit would help curb climate change, as would reducing the roughly one-third of food that is lost or wasted.

Here are some comments on the IPCC report from researchers and policy experts at development agencies and green groups: Maria Helena Semedo, deputy director-general for climate and natural resources, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization “This is an alarming report on how the systematic degradation of soils, cutting of forests, desertification, unsustainable agricultural practice, and reduction of biodiversity have turned our land into a major source of carbon.” Jennifer Tabola, director for global climate strategy, The Nature Conservancy “In the same way last year’s IPCC special report on 1.5C focused global attention on the threats of climate change like never before, today’s new report promises to do the same for the complex challenges of land use.”

Stephen Cornelius, chief advisor on climate change, WWF “This report sends a clear message that the way we currently use land is contributing to climate change, while also undermining its ability to support people and nature.

We need to see an urgent transformation in our land use. Priorities include protecting and restoring natural ecosystems and moving to sustainable food production and consumption.” Katherine Kramer, global climate lead, Christian Aid “The global food system contributes up to a third of our total greenhouse gas emissions and needs to change.

It is crazy that malnourishment is a problem even for over-consumers in rich countries, often through lack of fruit and vegetables and over-consumption of meat, while people in poor countries continue to suffer from a lack of available food.

A new and healthy balance for all is needed, for people and for planet.” Gemma Tillack, forest policy director, Rainforest Action Network “It’s more intuitive that belching smoke stacks and automobile tailpipes are central sources of carbon pollution driving the climate crisis.

But this latest IPCC report on land use underscores the urgent truth that protecting tropical forests, securing land tenure for indigenous peoples and transforming our current model of industrial food production are equally critical.”

“Achieving these historic shifts will require an all-in effort by governments, big corporate brands, the banks that finance them and consumers across the globe.” Teresa Anderson, climate policy coordinator, ActionAid International “The IPCC’s land report puts a big question mark on the future of industrial agriculture. A major shift to farming methods that work with nature, reduce emissions, empower women farmers and improve resilience to the impacts of climate change is now essential. It sends a stark warning that relying on harmful technologies such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, which would take up huge amounts of land, are at odds with our need to improve food security and protect our natural ecosystems.”

Michael Brune, executive director, Sierra Club “Changes to our climate and lands are a global crisis requiring a global solution - one in which we all play a role.

The science is conclusive: in the U.S. public land management must be part of our climate solution. We must not only prevent further pollution by stopping new dirty fuels leasing and development, but also keep natural spaces wild." (Reporting by Megan Rowling @meganrowling; editing by Chris Michaud. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking and property rights. Visit news.trust.org/climate)

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