Time is running out to cut greenhouse gases, says landmark climate change report

4 April 2022, Rome – The agriculture, forestry and other land use sector (AFOLU) still has time to cut greenhouse gases – but it must act now, warns new landmark report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The publication, known as the Working Group III contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR 6), found that 22 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions came from AFOLU in 2019. Despite years of efforts to reduce this figure, it remains largely unchanged from the 20-24 percent estimate contained in the previous report released in 2014.

According to FAO Forestry Officer Inge Jonckheere, one of the report’s lead authors, the figure shows efforts must be stepped up in order to limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century – the bare minimum needed to avoid a climate catastrophe.

“While we need urgently to accelerate action for climate mitigation, it may not be enough to fight climate change: we also need to support countries and communities adapt to its effects,” Jonckheere said.

“The good news is that in the AFOLU sector specifically we can still do a lot by protecting and restoring natural ecosystems, including forests, peatlands, coastal wetlands, savannas and grasslands, and FAO stands ready to help,” she added.


So far, FAO has helped 65 countries develop national forest monitoring systems, forest reference emission levels, safeguards, and national strategies for REDD+, a framework created under UNFCCC, for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

With forest fires being a major emitter of greenhouse gases, FAO is also involved in helping countries develop integrated fire management systems which, among other things, focus on risk reduction, prevention and recovery.

Land use change driving up AFOLU emissions

The publication explains that emission growth in the AFOLU sector was largely driven by land use change, as forests in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa were turned to cropland to feed growing and more affluent populations.

However, the report also highlights the clear potential of activities such as the protection of ‘irrecoverable carbon’ in forests and wetlands, improved forest management, reforestation, afforestation, and peatland and coastal restoration, not only for mitigation but also to promote a host of other environmental and social benefits when well governed. The report also suggests that policies and pledges designed to reduce deforestation do have a positive impact, but efforts to assess their success are hindered by a lack of reporting, as well as tools and facilities to measure progress on the ground.

“The findings clearly indicate that the next few years will be critical in the fight against climate change, and there are still several ways to improve our chances of success,” said Jonckheere. “But the time for action is now if we want to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and ensure a liveable future for people and ecosystems”.

last updated:  Tuesday, April 5, 2022