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Commonwealth calls for governments to intensify action on land use to meet climate targets

17 June 2020

The Commonwealth Secretariat is calling on member countries to consider the impact of agriculture, forestry and land use on climate change as they update their climate targets.

Nationally Determined Contributions

A review of existing targets, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), submitted by Commonwealth countries has shown that biodiversity, soil and water and climate resilient agriculture should be areas of focus for both climate change mitigation and adaptation.

As it stands, countries are missing substantial opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce climate vulnerability in cost-effective ways by not maximising the potential of sustainable land management practices.

Climate emergency

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said:

“There is still time to avert the climate emergency, but that window is closing fast. To keep the global temperature increase to below 2°C, countries must take bold action to halve emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050.

“On World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, we are reminded of the importance of judiciously managing our land resources to reduce emissions and increase resilience. Land based climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies are essential to help countries achieve their targets.”

Sustainable land management

Agriculture, forestry and other land use represents around 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable land management practices such as:

  • reforestation
  • improved water management
  • conservation agriculture
  • integrated soil fertility management
  • agroforestry

These practices can reduce climate vulnerability, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide carbon sinks to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The Commonwealth Secretariat, through the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub, is working with the NDC Partnership to design climate finance strategies and support member countries to revise and implement their NDCs.

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