Climate change is a crisis that requires immediate, cross-sectoral, global action, if we want to safeguard Earth as we know it and human wellbeing.
This is the unequivocal message by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. According to the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land (2019), “Land is both a source and a sink of greenhouse gasses and plays a key role in the exchange of energy, water and aerosols between the land surface and atmosphere. […] Sustainable land management can contribute to reducing the negative impacts of multiple stressors, including climate change, on ecosystems and societies.”
The IPCC report presents a range of land-based solutions called integrated response options that can be used for climate change mitigation, adaptation, desertification, land degradation and food security. The IPCC response options are grouped into three categories: Land Management, Value Chain and Risk Management. These options are broad and address different aspects of the economy, society, and the environment. They are not expected to be universally applicable and effective: While many value chain and risk management options are potentially broadly applicable, many land management options are applicable to less than 50% of the ice-free land area. Moreover, they do not consider the socio-economic and environmental specificities of individual countries. However, the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land remains an important reference for identifying solutions to climate change adaptation and mitigation.
In RethinkAction, we are working to identify and categorise land-use-based solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation to develop a decision support tool in collaboration with end-users. To this end, we have started a multi-scale analysis of governance and policy at European and national levels. Our aim is to include biophysical, environmental, and socio-economic information together with social and behavioural factors related to climate change.
Following the IPCC categorisation, we have divided land use-based solutions into three main groups:
• Land use planning: These solutions cover future feasible land use changes, including management of urban sprawl, the deployment of infrastructure for the use of renewable energy in land, the development of new transport or afforestation practices.
• Land management practices: Covering practices and changes in production such as agro-forestry, integrated water management, improved cropland, grazing and forest management.
• Demand management and behavioral change: These solutions will be based on changing existing economic activities and consumption patterns, including lifestyle changes, such as dietary change, reduced food waste, reduced energy use, or enhanced urban food systems.
Most of the solutions we identified are already implemented or planned to be implemented at different scales, with or without defined targets. Thus, discussions with end-users will be based on a realistic representation of how land use can contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation. This will allow optimizing the implementation of different strategies, identifying synergies and possible barriers to be overcome.