GENEVA – The target of keeping global warming below 2 degrees will not be possible without changes in land use paired with new food consumption habits, a United Nations report warned Thursday.
The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will inform negotiations at the UN’s annual climate conference which will take place in Santiago de Chile this December.
“Sustainable land management can contribute to reducing the negative impacts of multiple stressors, including climate change,” said the report, approved after five days of meetings with scientists at the 50th Session of the IPCC.
“Several solutions can be used to provide some respite in the short, medium and long term,” experts added.
The extensive analysis urges governments to lay down policies to change the agricultural and forest use of land to tackle climate change, keeping in mind that the forests absorb about a third of the carbon emissions.
“Such policies can contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation, reduce land degradation, desertification and poverty as well as improve public health.”
“Changes in consumption patterns have contributed to about 2 billion adults now being overweight or obese,” experts warned.
The report further said that nearly 25-30 percent of food produced on the planet is wasted so tackling this problem could reduce pressure on forests and the environment.
Reviving agricultural, livestock and silviculture practices traditional indigenous populations employ could also be beneficial.
“Agricultural practices that include indigenous and local knowledge can contribute to overcoming the combined challenges of climate change, food security, biodiversity conservation, and combating desertification and land degradation.”
The report, for the first time, established a direct link between climate change and land degradation – more arid areas, the threat to biodiversity, desertification – and warned of an increase in droughts in areas such as the Mediterranean and southern Africa due to global warming.
The effects of climate change could also increase the risk of forest fires and pest infestations, according to the IPCC report.