NETHERLANDS, Wageningen. WUR scientist Gert-Jan Nabuurs commented on the latest IPCC report, and the critical role agriculture and forestry play in solving climate issues. The IPCC author called on governments, consumers and farmers alike to take responsibility for tackling climate change.
In an interview by WUR, the lead author of the chapter on land use and agriculture, said significant changes are needed at a global level to reduce the greenhouse gasses affecting the climate.
In the chapter, the authors presented their findings on how agriculture, forestry, and farm animals could contribute to solving climate change. The sectors were crucial in the climate system because of their responsibility for 13 to 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions; deforestation along with nitrous oxide and methane emitted by farm animals being major contributors. Due to the growing demand for food, these emissions will be increasing on a global scale, the scientist pointed out.
According to the IPCC report, consumers and farmers could still prevent an average increase of two degrees, even though a 1.5-degree temperature increase could no longer be averted. The authors proposed a total of 22 global measures to reduce emissions effectively. Stopping deforestation, intensifying agriculture in a sustainable manner and recovering forests along with increasing biodiversity are the three most essential measures countries could take, the scientist said.
„If you move Dutch livestock farming to countries such as India and China, you will have made absolutely no improvements at a global level.“
Asked about preventative actions consumers, farmers and the Dutch government could take, Nabuurs said that a rigorous reduction of livestock in the Netherlands would only shift the problem to other areas without any improvements on a global level. The scientist pointed out that consumer behaviour could substantially impact, and authorities should use legislation, pricing and research to steer the private sector.
"If you consider that you can fly to the Mediterranean for ten euros, it's really ridiculous that we call on farmers to make million-euro investments to reduce emissions. But there is not a single government willing to address air travel," Nabuurs said. He also called on governments to be trustworthy, consistent and formulate long-term policies and thus, reduce insecurities for farmers, forest owners and consumers and added, "but farmers and consumers, too, have a responsibility. If we fail to take that responsibility, we will face the consequences in 2050."
The IPCC was established by the United Nations and is made up of scientists conducting extensive literature studies of all the available scientific publications. The scientists report on these publications through a three-year process to provide policy-makers with the most relevant and up to date information on climate change from scientific research.