Achievement of Paris climate goals unlikely due to time lags in the land system

Global targets to limit climate change are unlikely to be met due to delays in changing the way people use land, according to new research.

Nearly 100 countries pledged to make their use of land less damaging to the climate, mainly by limiting deforestation rates and boosting forest restocking, when they signed the Paris Agreement in 2015.

Many countries planned to prevent deforestation or establish new forests over large areas to absorb carbon dioxide from the air, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, changes which would remove up to 25% of the greenhouse gases released by human activity every year.

However, the new research shows that such changes in land use usually take decades to happen, far too slowly to help slow climate change to the agreed level.

Dr Calum Brown of KIT, lead author of the study, said: “Our research suggests that many of the plans for mitigation in the land system were unrealistic in the first place and now threaten to make the Paris target itself unachievable.”

Brazil increased deforestation by 29% between 2015 and 2016 despite reductions in the decade before the Paris Agreement was signed, the study says, essentially making the country’s emission promises impossible to meet.

Palm oil cultivation in Indonesia and Peru has also scuppered deforestation efforts and led to increased emissions rates, it says.

“Richer countries have not been leading the way, either in reducing their own emissions or in reducing the pressure on developing nations. And we need to find rapid but realistic ways of changing human land use if we are to meet our climate change targets”, authors say.

You can download the study here

 

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