More and more grasslands and forests are being converted into agricultural land and pastures.
Photo: ©Alf Ribeiro/shutterstock

11.01.2019

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The production and consumption of agricultural products have a greater relevance for climate change and climate protection than previously assumed. Researchers at Humboldt University Berlin have developed a new approach that takes the hidden “carbon costs” of land use into account, the so-called “Carbon Benefit Index”.

How we deal with the Earth’s land is of central importance for climate protection. More and more grasslands and forests are being converted into land for cultivation and pasture world-wide, whereby valuable carbon stores are lost. The intensive use of fossil fuels, irrigation, fertilisers and pesticides is having an additional impact. All in all, agriculture is responsible for about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions across the world.

If, in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement, global warming is to be limited to a maximum of 1.5°Celsius, then a substantial reduction in emissions will not be enough. Ambitious strategies for climate protection also rely on the targeted use of land for increased capture and storage of carbon, for instance through large-scale reforestation or the production of bioenergy. However, global food needs are expected to more than double by 2050. Thus competition for fertile land is set to further increase.

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