Global experts suggest reduction of fertiliser use, eliminating subsidies for deforestation, over-fertilisation and over-fishing; shifting diets toward more plant-based as some of the means to combat climate change.
A village woman struggling to find water in coastal Bangladesh. Photo: Rafiqul Montu
Biodiversity loss and climate change are driven by human economic activities. They mutually reinforce each other. Neither will be successfully resolved unless both are tackled together. This is the message of a workshop report, published today June 10, by global biodiversity and climate experts.
A virtual workshop was held between experts selected by a 12-person Scientific Steering Committee assembled by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Both these international organisations are working on climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.
“The warmer the world gets, the less food, drinking water and other key contributions nature can make to our lives, in many regions,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, co-chair of the Scientific Steering Committee. “Changes in biodiversity, in turn, affect climate, especially through impacts on nitrogen, carbon and water cycles,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ana María Hernández Salgar, Chair of IPBES suggested that transformative change in all parts of society and economy is needed to stabilize climate, stop biodiversity loss and chart a path to a sustainable future. “This will require us to address both crises together, in complementary ways. Land and ocean are already doing a lot – absorbing almost 50% of CO2 from human emissions – but nature cannot do everything,” said Salgar.
The experts warn that narrowly-focused actions to combat climate change can directly and indirectly harm nature and vice-versa. However, several measures can make significant contributions in both areas.
Following are the important possible actions identified in the report:
The report highlighted that reducing deforestation and forest degradation can contribute to lowering human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, by a wide range from 0.4-5.8 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent every year.
Improved management of cropland and grazing systems, such as soil conservation and the reduction of fertiliser use, is jointly estimated by the report to offer annual climate change mitigation potential of 3-6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
The group of international experts also highlighted some focused climate mitigation and adaptation measures as harmful to biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people. These include: