The world’s scientists have warned the pressures humans are putting on land are enormous, unsustainable and are adding to the climate crisis.

A landmark new report from the world’s scientists has warned the pressures humans are putting on land are enormous, unsustainable and are adding to the climate crisis.

The special report on climate change and land by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released today in Geneva, finds:

  • Industrial-scale agriculture and forestry are big contributors to climate change, accounting for about 22 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • About 25–30 per cent of food produced globally is now wasted.
  • The extent of land exploitation is unprecedented in its impact on nature and livelihoods.

To address these serious problems the world should:

  • Avoid further deforestation.
  • Invest in sustainable farming practices including decarbonised red meat.
  • Involve Indigenous and local communities in planning and decision-making relating to agriculture and forestry.
  • Reduce red meat consumption in the west and stop wasting food.

“Agriculture is the next big climate change transformation challenge following dramatic improvements in the commercial viability of renewable energy,” said Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) President, Mara Bún.

“The good news from this report is that we don’t have to make a choice between feeding ourselves and living in harmony with nature – solutions that ensure food security are also good for nature, the climate and communities.

“But we need a step change in investment in sustainable agriculture that replenishes nature as well as ending deforestation.

Garry Gale, ACF Board Member and recently retired head of Agribusiness Development and Asia Desk at the National Australia Bank, said food security was at risk if we didn’t act quickly and effectively to tackle climate change.

“This report shows climate change is creating additional stresses on our land, increasing the risks to affected communities and industries of extreme weather events, erosion and fire damage,” Mr Gale said.

“Australian research points to promising solutions but they will only be commercially viable if governments invest in mitigation at scale and if banks and insurers reflect risks accordingly.

“Financial institutions should reward farmers for their investments in natural capital – the soil, water and air – including planting native vegetation and improving livestock practices.

“We need to make it easier for farmers to take up precision agriculture – only using what you need – and make their properties wildlife friendly.”

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