Report: Human activity, climate change threatens land resources

Mazino Dickson, Abuja

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A new report released on Thursday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC ) says human activity and climate change are threatening land resources globally.

The IPCC was created to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation options.

The report titled: ‘Climate Change and Land, an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems.’

The main thrust was on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems.

The new findings indicate that keeping global warming to well below 2ºC can be achieved only by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors including land and food. .

Governments challenged the IPCC to take the first ever comprehensive look at the whole land-climate system. We did this through many contributions from experts and governments worldwide. This is the first time in IPCC report history that a majority of authors – 53% – are from developing countries,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.

The report shows that better land management can contribute to tackling climate change, but is not the only solution.

Land plays an important role in the climate system,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.

Agriculture, forestry and other types of land use account for 23% of human greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time natural land processes absorb carbon dioxide equivalent to almost a third of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry,” he said.

Desertification and land degradation

The IPCC noted that when land is degraded, it becomes less productive, restricting what can be grown and reducing the soil’s ability to absorb carbon.

This exacerbates climate change, while climate change in turn exacerbates land degradation in many different ways.

“The choices we make about sustainable land management can help reduce and in some cases reverse these adverse impacts,” said Kiyoto Tanabe, Co-Chair of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories.

“In a future with more intensive rainfall the risk of soil erosion on croplands increases, and sustainable land management is a way to protect communities from the detrimental impacts of this soil erosion and landslides. However there are limits to what can be done, so in other cases degradation might be irreversible,” he said.

IPCC said climate change is affecting all four pillars of food security: availability (yield and production), access (prices and ability to obtain food), utilization (nutrition and cooking), and stability (disruptions to availability).

The report was prepared under the scientific leadership of all three IPCC Working Groups in cooperation with the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories and supported by the Working Group III Technical Support Unit.