IPCC report on climate change and land identifies great potential for climate action
The IPCC report on climate change and land, presented in Geneva today, reveals substantial risks for the basis of life on our planet. The report illustrates the serious pressure climate change places on terrestrial ecosystems and underlines the necessity of combating them more effectively. Swift and decisive climate action and adaptation measures in the land sector would entail short-term benefits for society and economies and offer opportunities for climate-resilient development in the long term.
Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze commented: "The IPCC report shows that climate action is a question of survival because it threatens the very basis of our food resources and livelihoods. Agriculture and forestry are victims of this development, but they are also major causes of climate change and thus need to be part of the solution. How we treat our land can stabilise or harm the climate. The report shows that climate action is feasible in agriculture and forestry and even entails social, economic and ecological benefits. The upcoming reform of the Common Agricultural Policy is a great opportunity to establish the right incentives in Europe for more climate action in agriculture."
State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Education and Research, Georg Schütte, added: "Owing to the support of the German government, Germany's voice is being heard in the IPCC. Scientists urge us to take the results seriously; they are the product of many decades of research. The impacts of droughts over the last two years make it clear that in our climate zones, too, we need to use modern technologies to manage our natural land-based resources in a sustainable way. What we can do today will not be enough. In the long term, we will need greater efforts in science and research to grow drought resistant plants and develop food chains with fewer losses after the harvest. Often, this is only possible through international cooperation, as demonstrated by my ministry's excellence centres on climate change and land use in western and southern Africa."
The report states that around 25 percent of current man-made greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to land use, including forestry and agriculture. The terrestrial biosphere, however, also acts as natural greenhouse gas sink, since about 30 percent of man-made CO2 emissions are sequestered in vegetation and soils.
The impacts of climate change are already palpable. The more global warming increases, the more negative impacts can be expected on yields, food supply, food prices and availability of drinking water. The loss of vegetation and species, higher frequencies of forest fires, erosion of soils and coasts and thawing permafrost pose grave risks.
Effective measures exist to combat both climate change and land degradation. They include sustainable land and forest management as well as measures in the food system, for example reducing the food waste and diets that allow for a more sustainable use of resources.
Swift action lowers the risk of irreversible impacts on food security and land ecosystems, which are crucial for human well-being. The costs of climate change far exceed the costs of swift climate action in many areas.