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Land is a crucially important sector to keep global warming below 1.5°C

A quarter of human induced greenhouse gas emissions comes from agriculture, forestry and other land use.

Climate Action Network (CAN) argues that land is a crucially important sector for ambitious action to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere below dangerous levels, in order to keep global warming below 1.5°C.

About one quarter of all human-induced emissions come from agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU), mainly from land use change, fertilizer use, livestock and  peatland degradation. The potential for both sequestration and emissions reductions in the AFOLU sector is thus large, but it must be ensured that AFOLU mitigation does not compromise adaptation, food security or other social and environmental safeguards.

Reducing emissions (for example, by reducing deforestation) and enhancing removals (for example, by afforestation or reforestation) are already important components of some countries’ emission reduction pledges and will no doubt continue to be so. It is therefore vital that all countries both report on and account for emissions and removals from AFOLU in a comparable and transparent way, especially those countries which intend to include emission reductions or increased removals from the sector as part of their emission reduction target.

Given the unique nature of this sector, its relation to food security, ecological integrity, and cultural identity must be recognized in climate agreements. CAN says that a process for developing principles and guidelines to ensure these values are protected and maintained must be mandated.

Principles and guidelines should ensure social protections; food security; security of indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ land tenure; gender equity; ecological integrity; and animal welfare.

Actions in the land sector, in addition to actions in other sectors, should prioritize the protection, maintenance and restoration of natural ecosystems, while respecting customary and sustainable land use systems and existing agricultural ecosystems.

Common accounting rules for the land sector are essential for assessing comparability of effort. Accounting should be both comprehensive and complete, so that nations “account for what the atmosphere sees” in terms of emissions and removals.

The basic principles should according to CAN be a land-based reporting system and that the base year should be historical, not projected. To ensure that climate policies affecting agriculture can include consideration of small-scale farmers, food security and indigenous peoples should be recognized.

CAN summarizes the main demands as follows: Comprehensiveness and completeness Parties should comprehensively report on and account for their emissions and removals from all sectors, including land use. All human-induced emissions contribute to climate change and removals help to mitigate it. Nations should account for “what the atmosphere sees” in terms of emissions and removals, when they occur. Parties’ reporting and accounting should be complete, meaning that it covers all significant sources and sinks, as well as all significant pools and gases for which methodologies are provided in the 2006 IPCC Guidelines or for which supplementary methodologies have been agreed by the UN. Completeness also means the full geographical coverage of the sources and sinks of a country.

Base year or period

The base year or period used for reporting and accounting for AFOLU should be consistent with a Party’s overall ADP contributions to facilitate comparability within a contribution, i.e., baseline periods should be the same for the AFOLU sector as others and be historical, not projected. Furthermore, the AFOLU base year/period should be measured using agreed methodologies to estimate the emissions, removals, and stocks of the sector. It may be advisable to use a base period rather than a base year, as studies conducted by CAN indicate that this would be more reliable for forestry and other land types.


The data sources, assumptions and methodologies used should be clearly explained, in order to facilitate the replication and assessment of information. The transparency of inventories and accounts is fundamental to the success of the process for the communication and consideration of information.


An inventory should be internally consistent for all reported years in all its elements across sectors, categories, pools and gases.

The same methodologies should be used for the base year or period and all subsequent years, and consistent data sets should be used to estimate emissions or removals.


Emission and removal estimates should be accurate in the sense that they are systematically neither over nor under true emissions or removals, and that uncertainties are reduced as far as practicable.

Appropriate methodologies should be used, in accordance with the 2006 IPCC Guidelines, to promote accuracy in inventories and accounts.

Compiled by Reinhold Pape. Source: CAN submissions to the UN. Link:

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