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28th December 2023 (9 Topics)

Study finds land availability limited to achieve biodiversity targets and apply climate mitigation strategy

Context

Commitment of 120 million sq. km for land-based carbon dioxide removal potentially conflicts with “30x30” target.

Balancing Biodiversity and Climate Goals:

  • As the world grapples with the dual challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Climate sheds light on the intricate balance required in land use planning.
  • The study published in journal Frontiers in Climate highlights potential limitations in implementing biodiversity targets and specific climate mitigation strategies, raising important questions about the feasibility of global commitments.

Data and Facts:

  1. Land Allocation for Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR):
    • Countries have pledged 120 million square kilometres for land-based carbon dioxide removal (CDR) to achieve Net Zero goals.
    • CDR activities involve removing and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) in geological, terrestrial, or ocean reservoirs or products.
  2. Current Land Usage:
    • Of the available ice-free land (130 Mkm2), approximately 50 Mkm2 is used for agriculture and 30 Mkm2 for agroforestry.
    • As of 2023, protected areas cover 16% of the world's terrestrial area and 8% of the marine area.
  3. Biodiversity "30x30" Target:
    • In 2022, nations agreed on a biodiversity "30x30" target, aiming to safeguard 30% of the world's terrestrial and marine areas by 2030.
    • Current protected areas constitute only 12.3 Mkm2, requiring an increase to 30%, or 23 Mkm2, by 2030.
  4. Land Restoration Commitments:
    • The international community has pledged to restore nearly 10 Mkm2 of degraded land, including 20% of existing cropland and 10% of forest land.
  5. Biodiversity Conservation Challenges:
    • Researchers estimate that a minimum of 44% of global land (64 Mkm2) should be under protected areas to effectively conserve biodiversity.
    • The "30x30" target alone may not be sufficient to halt biodiversity loss.
  6. Climate Change and Biodiversity Conservation Conflict:
    • Certain land-based mitigation strategies conflict with the need to establish more protected areas due to limited land availability.
    • Large-scale deployment of CDR could undermine biodiversity goals, leading to further biodiversity loss and competition for land used for food crops.
  7. CDR and Paris Agreement Goals:
    • CDR activities alone may not fulfill the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 5 or 2 degrees Celsius.
  8. Doubts About Current Commitments:
    • Questions arise about how countries will allocate an additional 8 Mkm2 of land for protected areas and land restoration while expanding food production and CDR activities.
  9. Legal Considerations:
    • While emission reduction activities are emphasized in international environmental law, certain CDR approaches, like ecosystem restoration, could benefit biodiversity without legal conflicts.

Way Forward:

  • As nations strive to meet ambitious targets, finding a delicate balance that protects biodiversity, absorbs greenhouse gases, and ensures sustainable food production becomes paramount.
  • Governments are urged to prioritize CDR policies that effectively absorb greenhouse gases while also safeguarding biodiversity, recognizing that the threat to biodiversity from climate change is significant and demands immediate attention.
  • The world stands at a critical juncture where effective, well-balanced policies are essential for a sustainable future.

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