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COP24 is running out of time along with the global transition to a fossil free economy

Published on December 12, 2018 | Author: Linus Karlsson
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This year’s climate conference has gathered 20,000 people from over 190 countries. The conference in Katowice is the most important climate summit since COP21 as this meeting will decide how to implement the Paris Agreement. However, negotiations have been slow with disagreements on a number of issues, for example on transparency of emission reporting and how mitigation efforts in low-income countries will be financed. The first week ended with a failure to recognize the recently published IPCC report when four oil producing countries vetoed not to “welcome” its results.

The IPCC report, released earlier this fall, explains the effects of 1.5°C global warming and how to avoid overshooting this target. The report concluded that the impacts of 1.5°C warming are far more serious than earlier believed and is upon us within one or two decades if emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) are not reduced significantly.

“To limit global warming to 1.5°C will require unprecedented efforts by the global community”

Current pledges to cut GHG-emissions made after the Paris Agreement will result in a temperature increase of 3°C by 2100. This could trigger tipping points and result in an uncontrolled global warming. To limit global warming to 1.5°C will require unprecedented efforts by the global community. In addition to emission cuts, millions of hectares of land need to be reforested to capture carbon dioxide and deforestation needs to cease. Existing forests store more carbon than all the exploitable deposits of coal, oil and gas. While doing all this the population increase and the global economic development will increase the demand of agricultural products with 1.1% per year.

The challenges can seem overwhelming and many solutions must come together to address climate change with both mitigation and adaption efforts. In Agroforestry Network’s report: Achieving the Global Goals through Agroforestry one focus area is climate change as agriculture, forestry and other land uses are large emitters of GHGs. In total the sector stands for 21% of the global emissions.

“Agroforestry has potential to transform the agricultural sector from a net source of greenhouse gases to a carbon sink”

The report concludes that agroforestry has potential to transform the agricultural sector from a net source of greenhouse gases to a carbon sink. When trees are planted together with crops, the above- and below ground carbon stocks increase, resulting in a removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The sequestration potential in above ground vegetation is larger in humid than in dry or semi-dry climates. Furthermore, complex agroforestry systems, such as home gardens, store more carbon in vegetation than other agroforestry systems. No such generalisations can be made for below ground carbon sequestration as few studies have addressed this topic.

“When implementing sequestration projects it is essential to promote mitigation efforts that increase productivity”

However, a farmer practising agroforestry does not only store carbon, but can also increase yields from infertile soils and production of forest products. When implementing sequestration projects it is essential to promote mitigation efforts that increase productivity because the world’s soils will need to produce more food, fuel and fibres in the future. And as climate change is resulting in increasing food insecurity, mitigation efforts also need to reduce vulnerability to extreme weather events. Agroforestry can create more resilient systems to extreme events than simpler food producing systems. For example because trees create favourable microclimates and can increase the infiltration of water into the soil.

Agroforestry combines mitigation of climate change with adaption to its effect while also improving livelihoods. Therefore it is a promising tool to tackle climate change. Read more in:

Achieving the Global Goals through agroforestry