IPCC Releases the 'Special Report on Climate Change and Land'

Today the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its “Special Report on Climate Change and Land” and corresponding Summary for Policy Makers in Geneva, Switzerland. A draft of the full report, entitled “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 (SRCCL)” is accessible here.

Land nourishes our communities and sustains us and the future of the planet. Its ecosystems react in kind to how we manage our lands and produce our food. At this critical juncture in the fight against climate change, the publication of this report is well-timed and vitally important.

IPCC's new report follows its well-known 'Special Report on the impacts of Global Warming of 1.5°C Above Pre-industrial Levels and Related Global Greenhouse Gas Emission Pathway', which was released in October 2018. It also follows the recently published IPBES 'Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services', which highlights how species extinction rates are accelerating and nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history.

Although this IPCC report might be considered low-profile in comparison to previous reports, it is no less significant, particularly because it looks beyond greenhouse gas emissions and embraces the full complexity of issues surrounding land use and climate change.

IFOAM – Organics International welcomes the new report’s findings, especially the balanced emphasis on mitigation and adaptation and the concerns about the adverse impacts of bioenergy.

The climate and biodiversity loss crises are two sides of the same coin, which need to be addressed in synergy. IPCC’s land report scientifically demonstrates once again how business as usual cannot be our way forward.

The report erases any doubt about the urgent need to transform our food systems, which are estimated to cause between 19-29% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Crop and livestock production alone lead to 10-12% of all human-related greenhouse gas emissions, according to the IPCC. Deforestation and other changes in land use contribute to an additional 9-11% of GHG emissions. Astonishingly, agriculture is also directly responsible for 80% of deforestation worldwide, according to estimates.

The IPCC report clearly flags the detrimental impacts of industrialized and intensive agriculture and addresses the need to reduce emissions from fertilizers. The policymakers’ summary presents agroecology as a solution that can help our planet adapt to climate change and concurrently deliver multiple benefits. Additionally, it highlights the need to address land issues not only from a supply perspective, but also from the demand side by tackling consumption patterns in our food systems ranging from reducing food waste as well as meat intake.

The new report indicates that we need to be careful in applying certain mitigation solutions that have the potential to threaten food security and adaptation. Authors acknowledge that risks arising from scaling up bioenergy and BECCS for food security could put pressure on land and trigger water scarcity

It is critically important to understand that this report recognizes land tenure and gender-specific issues around land and agriculture as crucial elements in creating effective pathways for addressing climate change.

The report will provide key scientific input into upcoming climate and environment negotiations, such as the September 2019 Conference of the Parties of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (COP14) in New Delhi, India and the December 2019 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Santiago, Chile.


IFOAM – Organics International is member of the civil society organization known as CLARA, or the Climate, Land, Ambition and Rights Alliance.

CLARA is an alliance focused on rights-based approaches to agriculture and forestry. It examines at land use from a global perspective in the report ‘Missing Pathways’ and has recently launched member case studies to document adaptation and mitigation responses at the community level. 

CLARA believes that limiting global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) is still achieveable through deep fossil fuel emission cuts and the transformation of our food system based on organic principles and agroecology. Download the CLARA press release on the IPCC Report on Land here

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