Human land use for agriculture is contributing to climate change on a par with fossil power plants and internal combustion engines.
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11.03.2019

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The Paris Agreement to limit average global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels relies heavily on changing how farmland and forests are managed, an international research team says. They stress the need to step up efforts to make land management less damaging to the climate.

A research team from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany and the Scottish University of Edinburgh showed in a study that previous efforts to reduce greenhouse gases through human land use are insufficient. Their findings are presented in the journal Nature Climate Change.

“A quarter of anthropogenic greenhouse gases come from land use and the associated massive depletion of natural carbon sinks,” says Dr Calum Brown from the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research - Atmospheric Environmental Research (IMK-IFU). Fewer forests due to deforestation as well as intensive farming and pastoral agriculture are contributing to climate change on a par with fossil power plants and internal combustion engines. “Whether we achieve the climate goals of the Paris Agreement will depend heavily on our ability to establish fundamental, sustainable changes in the land use system.” Together with the University of Edinburgh, KIT has examined how countries that signed the Paris Agreement plan, introduce and implement appropriate actions, and what impact these could have on climate change.

“Our study shows that if we want to meet the climate goals, we need to find quick, yet realistic solutions to sustainably change human land use,” says Brown.

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