Scientists Say 1.5-Degree Climate Quest Gives Short Shrift To Forests

Min-jun Sup

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) puts the finishing touches on a new report detailing pathways to keeping global temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, more and more scientists are calling for greater emphasis on natural climate solutions.

Research published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academies of the Sciences identified 20 low-cost, natural “pathways” that can get us 37 percent of the way to meeting the Paris Climate Agreement target of 2.0 degrees Celsius, but most of the Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) used in the upcoming IPCC report focus on technological interventions, according to the Climate, Land, Ambition & Rights Alliance (CLARA), which is publishing its own report on 15 October.

The upcoming CLARA report says that the IAMs are focusing too much on technological ways of balancing deforestation and not enough on halting deforestation. Rather than focusing on geoengineering and carbon capture and storage, they argue, the IPCC should focus more on 1) increasing the security of land management by indigenous peoples and local communities; 2) aggressively protecting and restoring forests; 3) changing food production systems and combating food waste; and 4) limiting rich-country intake of meat and dairy products.

It is the first report to link three intersecting crises – climate change, biodiversity loss, and violations of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities – and to focus solutions on holistic approaches that tackle all three crises at once.  The report is based on a vast body of peer-reviewed science across multiple disciplines.  Members of CLARA include climate justice advocates, faith-based groups, conservation groups, land rights campaigners, development organizations, agroecologists, and representatives of people’s movements.

The IPCC report is scheduled for release Monday in Incheon, South Korea.

Min-jun Sup is a free-lance reporter based in Seoul.

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