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Land use and food consumption contributes to climate change, United Nations finds

12 August 2019

"Some dietary choices require more land and water, and cause more emissions of heat-trapping gases than others", Debra Roberts, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II, said in a statement.

The paper suggested a shift toward balanced diets containing plant-based foods and animal-sourced food produced sustainably in low greenhouse gas emission systems could help prevent and limit climate change.

Human activity is now imprinted on more than 70 percent of all ice-free land on Earth; agriculture uses 70 percent of the planet's freshwater.

Following is the text of the response of Ibrahim Thiaw, UN Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), to Special Report on Climate Change and Land by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released in Geneva on August 8. It would also make people healthier.

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When considering climate change, one of the greatest threats before the humanity, discussions usually focus on air and water, but land too is affected by and in turn affects global warming as much as those two elements. "This report sets out the scientific realities and makes it clear that we need political will and ambition from global leaders to deliver a new model of sustainable land use that protects human rights, livelihoods and the environment", said Juan Manuel Santos, Nobel peace laureate and former President of Colombia.

"When cattle graze on grass pastures, they are actually improving the grass and what they're grazing on", she said.

This is particularly important because the report raises serious concerns about how climate change will harm food security.

Anticipated net increases in carbon dioxide emissions from vegetation and soils due to climate change are projected to more than offset those expected increases.

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Last year, the same body issued the alarming finding that we have roughly a dozen years left before the world misses its window for averting runaway global warming. "There, if you're a poor small farmer, you starve and have to sell off all your equipment, and then you're stuck".

The panel stressed that it's essential that policy-makers keep this in mind when considering how they should invest, adapt to, and try to mitigate the effects of climate change. In nearly every major city across Metro Vancouver, people are rising up together to make sure their community takes a real stand for climate justice, and it's their passion and commitment that gives hope for real climate action over the impending make-or-break decade.

"More than 800 million people have insufficient food", noted Harvard University's Walter Willett, co-commissioner of a landmark study earlier this year in The Lancet proposing a "reference diet" for optimal health that is long on veggies, legumes and nuts, and short on meat, dairy and sugar. Not every country is going to stop eating meat, of course, but Searchinger of the World Resources Institute points to the rise in popularity of meatless products such as the Impossible Burger as a promising sign.

Recently, The Vancouver Sun published a climate change-denying op-ed that called itself a "reality check" on the wave of "climate emergency" declarations that has been roaring like a tsunami through Metro Vancouver.

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"When people think about solving climate change and what governments can do, they have to think about agriculture", he said.

Land use and food consumption contributes to climate change, United Nations finds