Conservation International Statement on the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land

August 8, 2019

Dr. M. Sanjayan:

“Restoring forests is the only thing on Earth that can reverse the emissions that drive global warming. Think about that. We know that in order to stop global warming, we have to cut emissions. But reforestation can literally reverse emissions. And in many places, we don’t even have to plant trees. They can grow back on their own if we let them. As they grow, they absorb carbon — it’s the only technology we have that can remove atmospheric carbon dioxide on a grand scale. This is the silver lining in the latest grim report; protecting and restoring nature is a great, good hope of a solution.

Of course, people need to eat. But it doesn't require clearing intact forests. Deforestation is a major cause of global warming, it accelerates weather extremes, crop failure, and thus hunger. So cutting forests to feed people is self-defeating, at best. This report is a wake-up call. It's going to take political will, funding, and cooperation. But, as Conservation International has long advocated, transforming to feed the planet while ending deforestation and investing in new forests is fundamental for human survival.”

Dr. Will Turner:

“The new report is alarming. It finds that our land use is making global warming worse and leaving us with fewer resources to cope with climate impacts. When you look for solutions to the climate crisis, you want what does the most good and the least bad. Alarmingly, the analysis reveals that seemingly good solutions may make things worse. Depending too much on biofuels, for example, could deprive farmers of land, release more carbon by clearing forests, and hurt communities by damaging the ecosystems they rely on for survival.

But here’s the encouraging part: There’s a solution to help stop global warming that has overwhelmingly positive impacts. It’s based in nature — in protecting and restoring the wild. Restore the world’s 10 million square kilometers of degraded lands — where forests once stood — and you absorb massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while bringing life back to land. Do this globally, it helps stabilize soils, provides clean water, supports healthy food supplies, and makes billions of people more resilient to climate change.”

About Conservation International
Conservation International uses science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature that people rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods. Founded in 1987, Conservation International works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports us all. Learn more about Conservation International, the groundbreaking “Nature Is Speaking” campaign and its series of virtual reality projects: “Drop in the Ocean”, “My Africa,” “Under the Canopy” and “Valen's Reef.” Follow Conservation International’s work on our Human Nature blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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