Latest post: Our natural land: part of the solution to tackling climate change

The view from Dover Hill Nr. Chipping Campden on the route of the Cotswolds way footpath

Natural land is one of our key resources. It provides a wide range of goods and services – food, timber, clean water, energy, wildlife habitats, carbon storage, flood management as well as green spaces vital for our physical and mental health and other recreation activities. While some of these benefits can be valued in monetary terms, others have no market value, which makes it all the more important to recognise their worth.

Many of the options for reducing emissions considered in the Committee’s analysis depend on how land is used. For example, reducing emissions from agriculture relies on being able to change farming practices; growing crops for bioenergy uses agricultural land; increasing tree planting requires additional land for forestry; whist land is also important for building resilience to climate change – for flood prevention, preserving biodiversity and soil and water quality.

Bringing these various strands together is the focus of a new CCC land use project. The project is employing a holistic approach to examine how non-developed land is used now and how this could change in the future – to 2050 and beyond. The way we use our land needs to deliver deeper cuts in emissions, ensure resilience to climate change, and account for the growing demands on our land from an increasing population.

This project comes at an important time. Last December, in Paris, 195 nations agreed an aim to hold the increase in average global temperature to well below 2°C and to “pursue efforts” to limit it to 1.5°C. They also agreed that global greenhouse gas emissions should decline to net zero in the second half of the century – meaning human activity needs to sequester more carbon than it emits. The Committee is currently assessing the implications of the Paris Agreement on the UK’s longer term climate change commitments to 2050 and beyond.

Today we’re publishing the first part of our land use work; an initial scoping study which assesses the current evidence about how UK land is used and how land use is measured. The study looks at different drivers of land use, as well as the relevant metrics and indicators we need to monitor changes in land use and land use management. It also reviews the available land use and land use impact models.

The project has involved consultation with a broad cross-section of specialists in the agriculture, forestry, land use modelling and ecosystem services sectors. Together, we’ve explored possible pathways to achieving net zero emissions – or ‘carbon neutrality’ – in the UK agriculture and land use sectors beyond 2050. These include diet change (primarily reducing consumption of carbon-intensive red meats); improved technological efficiency of agriculture (improved yields, greater use of crops with lower fertiliser requirements); multi-functional land-use (such as agro-forestry); and increasing carbon sinks (planting more trees and restoring peatlands).

The second stage of the project will involve more detailed modelling so we can see if it’s possible to achieve deeper emissions cuts in the agriculture and land use sector, whilst preserving the essential services and functions that our natural land provides. We will also assess the links, synergies and trade-offs between the need to reduce emissions in line with our climate change goals, and the need to prepare our land for the impacts of a changing climate. And we’re keen to quantify the benefits and costs of the various emissions reduction pathways described above.

We will be publishing the tender for this second phase in the autumn. If you’re interested in finding out more, or if you are a researcher and think you may be able to contribute, please get in touch: communications@theccc.gsi.gov.uk or 0207 591 6080.

Respond on Twitter: tweet us at @theCCCuk

Previous blog posts

The UK’s approach to tackling climate change

idford, UK - October 2, 2014: River Avon, Bidford UK - The river Avon at Bidford upon Avon Warwickshire English Midlands UK. The Avon is navigable at this point and there are leisure and pleasure boats moored on the river. It is a sunny afternoon in Autumn (October) and there are no visible people in the picture.

There has been, to adopt a phrase, a lot of news of late: the referendum on the EU, the impact on all of the political parties, a new Prime Minister and a new structure for Government and its ministerial team with countless deviations, contortions and digressions in between (and more, no doubt, to come). Yet, when it comes to climate change, three things remain unchanged, writes Committee on Climate Change Chairman, Lord Deben.

 

The UK’s approach to tackling climate change

The data behind the CCC’s fifth carbon budget

5CB smaller data snip

Last week the Government agreed to set the fifth carbon budget at the level recommended by the Committee on Climate Change. Today, for the first time, we are pleased to release a detailed set of data from the analysis that underpinned our advice. The Committee recommended a 57% reduction in UK emissions from 2028-2032 on 1990 levels. The dataset we are publishing today describes one way in which this could be met. …

The data behind the CCC’s fifth carbon budget

How a new approach to standards can drive low-carbon innovation

Agrilamp

In order to fast-track innovation that could help to tackle climate change, a new scheme can provide bespoke standards to verify pioneering technologies. Marieke Beckmann from the National Physical Laboratory explains how the Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) scheme is helping smaller businesses bring smart new products to the market

How a new approach to standards can drive low-carbon innovation

The fifth carbon budget – a balanced path to a necessary goal

ccc-graph

Between now and the end of June the “fifth carbon budget” must be written into law by Parliament. The budget will set the cap on UK emissions for the period 2028-2032. By law it must be legislated within the next three months but, like all budgets, its content is subject to discussion and debate. The legislated budget must take into account the advice of the Committee on Climate Change, the …

The fifth carbon budget – a balanced path to a necessary goal

The good, the bad and the ugly of the Paris Agreement

COP21 Paris - Plenary session

After a momentous fortnight, which saw 150 world leaders attend the opening days of the COP21 climate summit, the dust has begun to settle on the much-anticipated Paris Agreement. Lord Deben and Lord Krebs take a step back to consider the highs and the lows of the deal.

The good, the bad and the ugly of the Paris Agreement

Offshore wind: A valuable ingredient in the UK’s future energy mix

Gunfleet sands offshore wind farm

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, recently announced the Government’s intention to continue supporting offshore wind into the 2020s, providing costs continue to fall. If that approach proves successful, offshore wind could play a key part in the UK’s low-carbon future, writes the CCC’s Mike Hemsley.

Offshore wind: A valuable ingredient in the UK’s future energy mix

Preparing for the impacts of climate change on the UK’s natural environment

Peak district landscape scene

The UK’s rich wildlife and distinctive landscapes are a source of inspiration to millions of people, and there is a growing recognition that ‘natural capital’ – our water, soils, land, sea, air and the wildlife they sustain – is as important for the UK’s prosperity and quality of life as economic and social capital. Yet, climate change is set to radically change many aspects of the UK’s natural environment in the future, with implications for the vital services and benefits nature provides. The CCC’s David Thompson looks at the findings of a new research report to inform the UK’s second climate change risk assessment in 2017.

 

Preparing for the impacts of climate change on the UK’s natural environment

Why it’s sensible to stress test climate change adaptation plans

Large Waves Breaking Against Sea Wall At Dawlish In Devon

The CCC’s David Style explains why there is every merit in looking seriously at extreme high and low climate change projections to assess whether we are doing enough to adapt to climate change. The blog draws on key findings of a new research project on so-called H++ scenarios commissioned by the Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC) as part of its work to inform the Government’s next climate change risk assessment in 2017.

Why it’s sensible to stress test climate change adaptation plans

Preparing for UK water extremes: flooding and drought

Drought-Flood-UK

What are the potential impacts of climate change on flooding and water availability in the UK? In this blog, the CCC’s David Style sets out the key findings of two new research projects commissioned by the Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC) as part of its work to inform the Government’s next climate change risk assessment in 2017.

Preparing for UK water extremes: flooding and drought

View older blog posts