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IPCC report on Climate Change and Land Use

Last week the IPCC presented its special report on Climate Change and Land at COP25 in Madrid. Among those speaking at the session an a co-author of the report ,was the Bristol University Professor Jo House. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the entire land-climate system for the first time, and addressed land itself as a "critical resource".

There are four sections in the Summary for Policymakers (SPM). The first deals with "people, land and climate in a warming world"; the second covers "adaptation and mitigation response options"; the third focuses on "enabling response options" and the fourth considers "action in the near-term".

In the first section, the SPM says that human-induced land degradation—with increased consumption and population growth causing more land use for "food, feed, fibre, timber and energy"—has negatively affected ice-free land area globally. Approximately "25-30% of total food produced is lost or wasted" while "821 million people are undernourished" and " 2 billion adults now being overweight or obese."

In part two, the SPM says that "increased food productivity, dietary choices and food losses and waste reduction, can reduce demand for land conversion."

In part 3, suggested response options that will also help eradicate poverty, include "improving access to markets, securing land tenure, factoring environmental costs into food, making payments for ecosystem services, and enhancing local and community collective action". The SPM says that, "Many sustainable land management technologies and practices are profitable within three to 10 years (medium confidence). While they can require upfront investment, actions to ensure sustainable land management can improve crop yields and the economic value of pasture. Land restoration and rehabilitation measures improve livelihood systems and provide both short-term positive economic returns and longer-term benefits in terms of climate change adaptation and mitigation, biodiversity and enhanced ecosystem functions and services."

The report make for sobering reading, but provides options based on which climate change pathway policy makers chose to take. Read the full Summary for Policy Makers here, and watch the IPCC session at COP25 here.

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