Summary of current science reinforces the need for climate justice and highlights the role of traditional and indigenous knowledge in addressing climate crisis and land degradation
GLOBAL — Today the IPCC released a special report on Land and Climate Change. The findings of the report, backed by government representatives gathered in Geneva, have far-reaching implications for how the climate crisis and biodiversity loss are addressed. The report confirms that unless we start phasing out fossil fuels immediately, the consequences on land and food systems will be dire, and they will hit the most vulnerable the hardest.
“Unless we start substantially reducing fossil fuel use now and go completely fossil free by 2050, the combination of climate change and land degradation will lock even more people into poverty and exposure to climate impacts. The more carbon dioxide and methane we emit now, the higher the risks of breakdown in our food systems, especially in vulnerable areas. Continuing investments in fossil fuels and fossil fuel extraction, at this point, equals indirectly starving poor people” commented Mahir Ilgaz, Research and Grants Coordinator at 350.org.
There is a significant risk that false solutions to the climate crisis will add even more pressure to our ailing land and biodiversity systems. According to the latest scientific evidence summarized in the IPCC report, if global temperatures surpass the 1.5°C threshold, large scale deployment of carbon capture technology and production of energy using biomass might end up reducing arable land at a time when the combined impacts of climate change and land degradation will reduce yields in large parts of the planet.
If applied at the scale needed to remove CO2 from the atmosphere to the tune of several Gt of CO2e per year, solutions like bio-energy and BECCS (bio-energy with carbon capture and storage) can increase pressure on land and compromise sustainable development, with potentially irreversible consequences for food security, desertification and land degradation.
“The longer we wait to cut off fossil fuels, the more emissions will need to be offset, the larger the trade-offs will be of using arable land to compensate for the gap in fossil fuel availability and to capture CO2. At the same time, sustainably managing land will be a key way to cut emissions and reduce the impacts of climate change. We will need to pursue options that do not force people off their lands and do not swap biodiversity with more monocultures and industrial agriculture.” continued Ilgaz.
Despite issuing a dire warning on the rapid reduction of available and equitable options to addressing the climate crisis, the IPCC report also highlights how indigenous and traditional ways of managing the land can help revert land degradation and mitigate climate change in the process. Earlier versions of the report, leaked to the press, clearly spoke about involving communities, especially the most vulnerable, in decision-making on land use and in monitoring the performance of policy instruments for sustainable land management.
“Although we Indigenous Peoples suffer the effects of climate change before other people and are under constant attack from invaders and even our own governments, we continue to protect our lands and the biodiversity within them. We do so for the well-being of our communities, but also of the entire planet, because we know that the land degradation that affects us in Brazil will also impact the lives of people in China, in Africa and elsewhere in the world. It’s key that our voices are heard in the conversation about solutions for the climate crisis and for deforestation, as we have been showing for centuries how true is the message that everything on Earth is connected” said Andreia Takua Fernandes, Frontline Organizer – Indigenous Communities at 350.org.
The IPCC special report on Land and Climate Change is one of two reports coming out this year as follow-up to the landmark 1.5°C report released last October. The second one, a special report on the Oceans and the Cryosphere, is scheduled to be released in late September.
In response to the evidence of the 1.5°C report, 350.org developed a People’s Dossier on 1.5°C highlighting 13 stories of local resistance to fossil fuels by vulnerable communities.