The international community must take urgent action to protect the climate and ensure that the world’s growing population can be fed, according to a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This includes better land management, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and embracing sustainable diets.
The IPCC’s Special Report on Climate Change and Land warns that land resources are reaching their limit due to climate change. This will have a particularly negative impact on global food security. Frequent weather extremes are contributing to food instability, while higher carbon concentrations negatively affecting the quality and nutritional value of crops.
While climate change is the biggest danger, the report points out that the planet is being heavily exploited by humans to feed the growing population. Agricultural land is constantly being expanded, the use of artificial nitrogen fertilizers is on the rise, and more and more water is being used to irrigate arable land. All of this combined creates a vicious circle, one in which the over-exploitation of resources is ultimately accelerating climate change.
According to the report, an urgent change is needed to ensure food security for the world’s population, particularly in low-income countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. This includes reducing food loss and waste and embracing diets that require less land and water, all of which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The report’s authors also call for balanced diets featuring plant-based foods and animal-sourced food produced sustainably in low greenhouse gas emission systems.
“Policies that support sustainable land management, ensure the supply of food for vulnerable populations, and keep carbon in the ground while reducing greenhouse gas emissions are important,” said Eduardo Calvo, Co-Chair of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories.