When are Changes in Land Use Truly Good for the Climate?
Most analyses project increased global demand for food by 50% or more by 2050 while climate stabilization strategies require no net expansion and many require hundreds of millions of hectares of reforestation. Because land area is fixed, there is no way to achieve both goals without making more efficient use of land. This talk will discuss how many climate mitigation strategies, including those by the IPCC, have failed to address this fundamental land limitation. It will also articulate why typical analyses of possible changes in land use or management used for policy, including diet changes, have not truly focused on the efficiency of such changes for meeting both food and climate goals because they have not truly factored in the opportunity cost of not using land to store carbon. The talk will explain a new method for analyzing the climate benefits based on a recent paper in Nature, called “Assessing the efficiency of changes in land use for mitigating climate change.” It finds that changes in both consumption and production that alter land use have far greater consequence for climate change than typically estimated.