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Contribution of the land sector to a 1.5 °C world

The Paris Agreement introduced an ambitious goal of limiting warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. Here the authors combine a review of modelled pathways and literature on mitigation strategies, and develop a land-sector roadmap of priority measures and regions that can help to achieve the 1.5 °C temperature goal.

Transforming the land sector and deploying measures in agriculture, forestry, wetlands and bioenergy could feasibly and sustainably contribute about 30%, or 15 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) per year, of the global mitigation needed in 2050 to deliver on the 1.5 °C target, but it will require substantially more effort than the 2 °C target. Risks and barriers must be addressed and incentives will be necessary to scale up mitigation while maximizing sustainable development, food security and environmental co-benefits.

The land sector, commonly referred to as ‘agriculture, forestry, and other land uses’ (AFOLU) is responsible for 10–12 GtCO2e (about 25%) of net anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with approximately half from agriculture and half from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF)

What the land sector can deliver and Land-sector roadmap for 2050 ( the article presents visually the following in figures)

Fig. 4: Global land-based mitigation potential in 2020–2050 by activity type from bottom-up literature review.

Fig. 5: Land-based mitigation potential in 2020–2050 by region.

Fig. 6: Land-sector roadmap for 2050.

The land-sector transformation characterized in the 1.5 °C modelled pathways will require considerable investment and action. Given that land interventions have interlinked implications for climate mitigation, adaptation, food security, biodiversity and other ecosystem services, we developed a roadmap of priority activities and geographies through 2050 to illustrate a potential path of action for achieving climate and non-climate goals.

Scaling up action in the land sector- The 1.5 °C land-sector roadmap shows a pathway to reduce emissions by about 85% by 2050 and increase carbon removals, tenfold between 2030–2050. However, there is a large gap between progress so far and the desired pathway.

The article is not open access. Nature Climate Change volume 9, pages 817–828(2019)

Further reading: Sustainable land use for mitigation. The latest IPCC report highlights that a change in diets for richer nations, and smarter land use, could ensure food security and mitigation of potential climate impacts.