The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have today published a report on land use and climate change, which concludes that land use accounts for almost one-quarter of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Key contributors to these emissions are deforestation, the destruction of carbon-sequestering habitats such as peatland, intensive crop production and livestock farming.
The report also highlights the effect that current land use is having on biodiversity loss. and loss of natural ecosystems. Human use directly affects more than 70% of the global, ice-free land surface.
The IPCC warn that climate change will exacerbate land degradation through increased drought, heat stress and rainfall intensity, which will have knock on effects for food security.
The Panel stressed that to help avert a climate crisis, land will have to be managed more sustainably, carbon-sequestering habitats will need to be restored and meat consumption will have to be cut to reduce methane production.
The report estimates that by 2050, dietary changes could free millions of square kilometres of land, and reduce global CO2 emissions by up to eight billion tonnes per year, relative to business as usual.