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Land degradation major contributor to climate change: Report

PTI New Delhi | Updated on September 05, 2019 Published on September 05, 2019

Representative image   -  Bloomberg

Land degradation is a major contributor to climate change as degraded land loses soil carbon and emits greenhouse gases, according to a report introduced at the 14th Conference of Parties on land desertification being hosted by India.

During a discussion on the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at the COP 14 to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), experts said emissions from agriculture, forestry and land use sector make about one-third of the total global emissions.

“Land degradation is the driver of climate change. Degraded land loses soil carbon and emits green house gases due to deforestation and loss of soil carbon,” Minal Pathak, one of the authors of the IPCC report, said.

Highlighting the key findings of the report, Pathak said since 1990, globally the forest area has decreased by 3 per cent.

“Lower carbon density in re-growing forests compared to carbon stocks before deforestation results in net emissions from land use change. Forest management that reduces carbon stocks of forest land also leads to emissions, but global estimates of these emissions are uncertain,” he said.

Cropland soils have lost 20-60 per cent of their organic carbon content prior to cultivation, and soils under conventional agriculture continue to be a source of greenhouse gases, according to the report, authored by scientists from over 50 countries.

According to the report, land degradation adversely affects people’s livelihoods and occurs over a quarter of the earth’s ice-free land area.

It said that majority of the 1.3 to 3.2 billion people affected by land desertification are living in poverty in developing countries.

The member countries of the UNCCD have adopted to achieve the land degradation neutrality target by 2030 to mitigate climate change.

Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) is a state whereby the amount and quality of land resources, necessary to support the ecosystem functions and enhance food security, remain stable or increase within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems. 122 countries are working to achieve the LDN target by 2030.

An estimated 7,200 participants that include ministers and representatives of governments, non-government and intergovernmental organisations, scientists, women and youth from 197 countries are attending the event which started on September 2 and will end on September 13.

During the last COP in 2017 in China, countries had agreed on a 12-year strategy to contain runaway land degradation that is threatening global food and water supply.

Published on September 05, 2019
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