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Food, land and climate change

What we eat, and how it is produced, is affecting the climate. Climate change, in turn, is affecting the systems we rely on for food, livelihoods and well-being. Climate and land solutions must work for people and nature, and avoid the dangerous distractions that will make things worse. 


Land is essential to human societies and nature

  • Land provides the principal basis for human livelihoods and well-being. 

  • Human use directly affects more than 70% of the global, ice-free land surface. 

  • Land also plays an important role in the climate system. 


Climate change is affecting land and its uses

  • Since pre-industrial times, air temperature over land has risen nearly twice the global average. 

  • Climate change has harmed food security and land ecosystems, and worsened desertification and land degradation in many regions. 

  • It creates additional stresses on land, exacerbating existing risks to livelihoods, biodiversity, human and ecosystem health, infrastructure, and food.  


Land use, including agriculture, is affecting the climate

  • Agriculture, forestry and other land use contributes to climate change. 

  • If emissions associated with pre- and post-production activities in the global food system are included, the emissions are estimated to be 21-37% of total human emissions.

  • Land use also affects the amount of carbon stored in soils, crops and forests – known as “sinks”.


Dangerous distractions must be avoided

  • Monoculture tree plantations, geo-engineering, unjust carbon offset projects, and large-scale bioenergy/BECCS are not climate solutions, and risk distracting from real solutions..

  • We need dramatic changes at all levels: from the corporate-dominated global food system, to our individual diets, to prevent dangerous climate change.

Climate and land solutions must work for people and nature

  • Climate solutions must work for people—at community, landscape, and national levels. 

  • These include:

    • Securing land rights for indigenous peoples and local communities.

    • Strengthening core forest protections and ecosystem integrity.

    • Restoring degraded forests and ecosystems.

    • Agroecology and food sovereignty.

  • Together these approaches can protect forests and communities, restore ecosystems and food systems, and respond ambitiously to climate change, with social justice and agroecology.​

  • These nature- and human rights-based solutions can help to reduce emissions and store enough carbon to stay under 1.5°C without resorting to BECCS and other risky geo engineering technologies. 

For more information see:
IPCC, Special Report on Climate and Land
Land Ambition and Rights Coalition

Paris Climate Justice Briefs, Agriculture & Climate Justice

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