Does anyone really question whether land is central to what we’re all trying to do here in the UNFCCC? No, didn’t think so. Not only is the land sector critical to our mitigation efforts, but one of the key reasons we so urgently need to stop climate change is to still be able to use it to grow food and, um, eat, in a few decades’ time.
It’s obvious that to help us stay below 1.5°C temperature rise, some types of land must act as sinks and carbon stores. We need to do everything we can to protect, maintain and restore critical ecosystems such as natural forests, grasslands and degraded peatlands. Our survival, and most of the living species we share our planet with, depend on it. In fact, we need the work on land to come on top of everything else we can do to reduce our emissions from other sectors, particularly industry and energy. So let’s be honest; land cannot be used to lower ambition elsewhere.
At the same time, let’s not get carried away in our enthusiasm for mitigation in the land sector. Countries need to avoid any perverse incentives that conflict with food production, destroy natural ecosystems, threaten indigenous peoples’ rights, drive land grabs, increase hunger, harm animal welfare, or make life even tougher for vulnerable communities. ECO suggests a rather elegant solution: Parties should be as clear as possible in the text about the kinds of lands and mitigation actions that should be prioritised, and that peoples’ rights must be protected.
With this in mind, ECO hopes that there will be resounding support for the Parties that have introduced text to ensure food security and social and environmental protections into the General Objective of the new agreement.
Addressing land properly in the new agreement presents an exciting opportunity to fix the gaps in the old regime, step up ambition, and protect our future food security. We’re all hungry for change.