Campaigners are calling for an “urgent transformation” in the way the world’s land is used, ahead of a key UN report on land and climate change.
Governments are meeting to approve a special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is set to be published on Thursday.
The report will look at the climate impacts of land, such as agriculture and deforestation, which account for around a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, and the effects of rising temperatures for landscapes and society.
It is also expected to look at ways that the land can help tackle climate change and deliver other benefits such as food security and wildlife protection, for example through reforestation and sustainable agriculture.
Ahead of the report’s publication, Dr Stephen Cornelius, WWF’s chief adviser on climate change and IPCC lead, said: “We need to see an urgent transformation in how we use land in the future.
“This includes the type of farming we do, our food system and diets, and the conservation of areas such as forests and other natural ecosystems.
“All of which can either help or hinder the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. This new report should bring this home to us.”
He added: “Good land-use choices are central to tackling the climate crisis.
“We must see a rapid shift in how we manage our land, alongside the necessary deep cuts to fossil fuel emissions, if we are to meet the 1.5C goal of the Paris Agreement.”
Countries have agreed to curb global temperature rises to “well below” 2C and to pursue efforts to keep them to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels under the international Paris Agreement secured in the French capital in 2015.
The latest report comes after a study last year from the IPCC warned countries must take “unprecedented” action to slash carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and limit dangerous global warming.
Impacts of climate change, from droughts to rising seas, will be less extreme if temperature rises are curbed at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels than if they climb to 2C, the UN-backed study said.
Limiting warming to 1.5C is possible but will require fast and far-reaching changes to power generation, industry, transport, buildings and potential shifts in lifestyle such as eating less meat as well as measures to take carbon from the atmosphere, such as planting trees.
A separate UN-backed global assessment of the state of nature earlier this year found wildlife and habitats are declining at an “unprecedented” rate worldwide, with changes to the way land is used playing a major role.