The report “Missing pathways to 1.5 °C –The role of the land sector in ambitious climate action” provides an alternate response to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s request to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to analyse impacts of warming to 1.5°C and related greenhouse gas emission pathways. Prepared by representatives of the Climate Land Ambition and Rights Alliance (CLARA), a consortium of advocates, faith-based organisations and scientists concerned with climate mitigation and adaptation, the report responds specifically to the concern that many IPCC pathways rely heavily on untested mitigation approaches such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). CLARA supports the IPCC’s objective of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change while meeting sustainable development goals and reducing poverty.
CLARA’s report, however, confines solution pathways to low-risk land-sector approaches that protect, restore and sustainably manage natural ecosystems, while respecting human rights.
Emphasising climate solutions that put the needs of people and planet first, especially the role that forests and improved agricultural practices can play, this report proposes a series of tactical approaches and quantified carbon sequestration goals to address the intertwined crises of climate change and global biodiversity loss in three sections, namely strengthening indigenous and community land rights, restoring forests and other ecosystems, as well as transforming agriculture.
The report shows how major shifts in land use and land management represent ‘missing pathways’ toward the 1.5°C temperature limit goal that reduce or eliminate the need for reliance on geoengineering approaches such as BECCS. Furthermore, the report quantifies avoided emissions and mitigation gains that could be achieved from rights, restoration, agro-ecological, and food-system pathways.
Main conclusions of the report are:
• Land rights are key to ecosystem protection.
• Deforestation must end, globally, not just on a ‘net’ basis but on an absolute basis.
• Restoration, natural regeneration, reforestation, and improved forest management all represent important, separate opportunities for increasing mitigation ambition.
• A focus on biodiversity and rights delivers greater mitigation ambition than only focusing on carbon. Adaptation in agriculture delivers substantial mitigation benefits as well.
• Food production systems must be restructured toward agro-ecological approaches.
• Equitably reducing consumption, particularly of animal products, represents the single most effective climate intervention in the land sector.
• Climate-compatible food systems increase resilience while reducing hunger and ‘rich- country’ diseases indicative of poor diet.
Rural 21, no 4/2017: Climate change