Plant-based fuels key as climate change threatens global food security, says UN

August 09 , 2019

The United Nations (UN) is urging countries to turn toward sustainable land use and plant-based fuels and foods.

This is increasingly important as rising temperatures and climate change continue to impact fertile soil, heightening the risks facing global food security.

More than 500 million people today live in areas affected by erosion linked to climate change, the UN warned on Thursday. With this in view, it added that it is increasingly critical to help limit greenhouse gas emissions before it is too late.

In the future, countries should consider all options to tackle loss and waste, thereby reducing the pressure on land and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions, including by growing plant-based, or so-called “bio” fuels, said co-chair of one of its Working Groups, Jim Skea.

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors is essential,” said Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of Working Group II, before cautioning that there were “limits to the scale of energy crops and afforestation that could be used to achieve this goal”.

Skea went on to explain that limiting global warming to 1.5 or even two degrees (Celsius) will involve removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Land has a critical role to play in carbon dioxide removal, he emphasized.

“Agricultural practices can help build up carbon in soils, but it could also mean using more bio-energy with or without carbon capture and storage and expanding forests,” he pointed out.

According to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, agriculture, forestry and other land use contribute to around a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions.

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.

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