Forests, food, land: Delivering solutions to tackle the climate crisis by 2030

The sun sets over Mount Mutis Nature Reserve in West Timor, Indonesia. CIFOR/Nanang Sujana
13 June 2018

BONN, Germany (Landscape News) — A new partnership urging businesses, citizens and governments to take action in the field of forest conservation, land use, food production and consumption aims to take action on climate change.

The 30X30 Forests, Food and Land Challenge — with a mandate to deliver up to 30 percent of climate solutions needed by 2030 — was announced by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and partners on Monday ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco in September.

The land-use sector is one of the main causes of climate change. Globally, agriculture, forestry and other land uses emit more greenhouse gasses than all cars, trucks, trains, planes and ships combined. Forest clearing is particularly problematic, as it not only releases carbon, but also diminishes the Earth’s capacity to absorb it.

To curb climate change, we must address the second-greatest source of emissions: our use of land,” said Manuel Pulgar Vidal, head of WWF’s global climate and energy practice. “By taking concrete action, businesses and local leaders also can encourage national governments to more aggressively reduce carbon emissions using every resource available, including trees, grasses and soil.”

The 30X30 challenge requires businesses, citizens, and governments at all levels to take actions on three main priorities:

  • Halve food loss and waste, and consume responsibly

By reducing food loss and waste, and changing consumption patterns, the pressure that human diets put on the climate can be alleviated. Currently, food loss and waste contribute 4.4 gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions every year, and the consumption of products like beef and palm oil is a key driver of deforestation.

  • Sequester one gigaton of carbon per year in natural and working lands

It is estimated that tropical forests alone could capture between 25-35 percent of all human carbon emissions, provided that deforestation is halted, mature forests are left undisturbed and forests are allowed to regrow. Agriculture and forestry companies can reduce their carbon footprint by eliminating activities that lead to environmental degradation from their supply-chains, restoring lands that have previously been cleared, and employing production techniques that build up carbon in the ground.

  • Enable better production of food and fiber by unlocking finance, increasing transparency, fostering public-private collaboration, and protecting local rights

Innovative financing is required to attract investments in improved production practices, while new technologies (like satellite monitoring) should be used to make supply chains more transparent, enabling companies to verify whether their suppliers are producing responsibly. Achieving climate targets also requires improved collaboration between different stakeholders, and the protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, who can act as effective guardians of natural habitats.

SUMMIT FRAMEWORK

The September Global Climate Action Summit summit will showcase climate action activities around the world, encouraging national governments to share their progress with national climate action plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), crafted under the 2015 U.N. Paris Climate Agreement.

As part of the agreement, governments committed to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The summit will also urge businesses, financial institutions, state and local governments and other stakeholders to demonstrate relevant emissions reducing activities. The event will be structured around five main challenges: Healthy Energy Systems; Inclusive Economic Growth; Sustainable Communities; Land and Ocean Stewardship and Transformative Climate Investments.