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Briefing Paper: The Role of Land in Achieving Net Zero

March 24, 2020
News item image NbSI director, Nathalie Seddon, was co-author on this briefing paper for the Net Zero Network

We co-authored a briefing paper for the Net Zero Network looking at the contribution of nature-based solutions and other aspects of land use to achieving net-zero emissions in the UK. Key points include: 1) Nature-based solutions can be used to increase the size of natural carbon stores and keeping existing stores intact. This is alongside supporting human adaptation to climate change such as by reducing flooding, mitigating air pollution, and cooling cities.

2)  Methane and nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture must be reduced in order to reduce ‘peak warming’; since these greenhouse gases are more short-lived than carbon dioxide, reducing emissions rapidly results in a cooling effect. This requires reducing the number of ruminant livestock and hence the area of pastureland, in turn freeing up space for expansion of forests, which can add to the terrestrial carbon sink. However, meat production must not simply be displaced to other countries where it may cause deforestation; therefore demand for meat must also significantly drop.

The briefing recommends policies to evaluate based on the Committee on Climate Change recommendations:

– Regulate on-farm emissions and promote accurate lifecycle assessment of foods using impact on global temperature rather than aggregate “CO2-equivalent” emissions.

– Create market-based policies that mobilise capital towards nature-based solutions that promote the restoration of ecosystems.

– Encourage low-carbon farming though public funding and support schemes.

– Regulate food waste and encourage sustainable and healthy diets.

– Regulate and promote innovation of supply-chain-management to avoid deforestation.

Read the briefing paper here, and see our other policy briefs here.