Experts React to IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land

IPCC Author Quotes

Louis Verchot, lead author of chapter 2 and Landscape Restoration Theme Leader at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture:

“Land is important, and it’s actually providing a gift to society, a gift to our economy, in that it absorbs about 22% of the greenhouse gases that we emit globally. And this is through natural processes that are being enhanced by the effects of climate change. So as temperatures, increase as growing season increases, as plants respond to excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as they respond to the nitrogen that we are using to produce plants, and this nitrogen begins to move around the biosphere, it’s increasing plant growth. As we’ve continued to pour more and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the Earth’s system has responded and it’s continued to absorb more and more.

“But the important finding of this report, I think, is that this additional gift from nature is limited. It’s not going to continue forever. If we continue to degrade ecosystems, if we continue to convert natural ecosystems, we continue to deforest and we continued to destroy our soils, we’re going to lose this natural subsidy that we’re getting that’s protecting us in part from ourselves and from the damage that we’re creating as we pump these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

Cynthia Rosenzweig, Coordinating Lead Author of Chapter 5 and Senior Research Scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies:

“Our chapter in the report looked at food security. This is relatively new for the IPCC to go beyond just the focus on what’s happening to the crop yields, although still very important, but to take a much broader look and examine how people all over the world have access to their food, have not just the availability, but looking at do they have enough money and what’s going on with the prices of food, for example.”

“Something very new in the report really was to take a look at the food system as a whole from the production side, from the supply chain side. How does the food get to, and what kind of greenhouse gas emissions are associated with transport and packaging, and retail, and storage. All of those also provide opportunities for reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Pamela McElwee, lead author of chapter 6 and Associate Professor, Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers University:

“One of the important findings of our work is that there are a lot of actions that we can take now. They’re available to us now. We don’t have to wait for some sort of new technological innovation. What some of these solutions do require is attention, financial support, enabling environments. They’re just not scaled up to the degree that they need to be right now.”

Expert Reactions Quotes

David Nabarro, Strategic Director of 4SD and Co-Facilitator of the Nature-Based Solution work stream of the UN Secretary General’s 2019 Climate Action Summit:

“The IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land highlights the magnitude, scale and pace at which significant and concrete actions need to be taken in the land sector to mitigate and adapt to climate change and to improve the resilience of the world’s most vulnerable communities. Against a backdrop of widespread destruction of natural resources and a tight window of opportunity for reversal, nature-based solutions are already in place, being implemented across the globe and ready to be scaled up.”

Luis Alfonso de Alba, Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Action Summit:

“The IPCC report shows the urgent need for improved land and agricultural management. We cannot continue to watch the ongoing degradation of our land and our natural systems. We need to take action and the Climate Action Summit this September is the moment to demonstrate strong leadership to reverse desertification and land degradation, sparking the transformation that is urgently needed in this arena.”

David Perry, CEO Indigo CEO:

“We’re pleased to see the UN IPCC Lands Report recognize agriculture as a solution in meeting our Paris Agreement goals. Agricultural soils represent one of the most immediate, scalable and affordable opportunities to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and address climate change. At a time when crop production and biodiversity are at risk, we can urgently activate the potential of our global farmland to draw down atmospheric carbon dioxide. Farmers are already doing so through programs like The Terraton Initiative, a global effort to remove one trillion tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide through agricultural soils, but scaling will require participation from both public and private sector. As we look for real solutions to our climate crisis, agriculture should rise to the top.”

Eric Toensmeier, author of The Carbon Farming Solution and Lecturer at Yale University:

“The new IPCC report reaffirms a critical message – it’s not too late to take action to keep warming below 1.5˚C. What’s new is the comprehensive survey of mitigation actions in agriculture, ecosystem management, and the food supply chain. In fact it shows that the 1.5˚C goal can’t be maintained without farmers, ranchers, and land managers. The report also notes that risks of desertification and food security crises are substantially lower in scenarios where excess consumption is reduced and sustainable land management is widely deployed. It closes with a jarring message: that delaying action could result in irreversible damage to the ecosystems which are the basis of human society and our economies.”

Matt Lee-Ashley, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress:

“This report is signaling in flashing red lights that we need to take far better care of our forests, wetlands, grasslands, and natural places. With a football field worth of America’s natural areas disappearing to development every 30 seconds, we must step up local and national conservation efforts, and do so in a way that meets the needs of every community in this country. With overwhelming and bipartisan majorities of voters wanting better protections for America’s outdoors, conserving nature is a climate solution that every politician should be able to agree to.”

Peter Lehner, Earthjustice Managing Attorney for the Sustainable Food & Farming Program:

“The IPCC report makes clear that no plan to combat the climate crisis is complete without radically rethinking our approach to food production. We must take bold action to adopt policies at every level of government and throughout the economy to accelerate climate-smart agriculture and land management practices that protect our food supply, farm workers and the planet. Current policies too often discourage practices that have been repeatedly proven to be better for both producers and their communities.”

David Festa, Senior Vice President for Ecosystems at Environmental Defense Fund:

“Our best shot at a healthy, prosperous and food-secure future requires us to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to the climate impacts we cannot avoid. Making agriculture more sustainable and preserving our forests will help on both fronts.”

Ernie Shea, President, Solutions from the Land:

“The IPCC Land report released today recognizes the near term solutions that well managed farms, ranches and forests can deliver at scale to combat climate change. We look forward to working with our partners across the globe in advancing adaptation and mitigation strategies that address climate, food system and biodiversity goals.”

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