Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

For Immediate Release


Press Release

To Avoid Worst Consequences of Climate Change, Solutions Must Include Land Use Sector


A report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) finds that reducing emissions from the land sector must be part of a global climate solution in order to close the “emissions gap,” the difference between the reductions in global warming pollution that are needed and the reductions that countries have pledged to make. According to UCS, closing this large and widening gap is vital to preventing the worst consequences of climate change, and the land sector can close half of the emissions gap.

The UCS study “Halfway There? What the Land Sector Can Contribute to Closing the Emissions Gap Post-2020,” provides country-specific estimates for post-2020 mitigation potential from the land sector, which includes agriculture and forestry. The report points out that only eight countries’ emissions make up 57 percent of land use emissions, which account for about a quarter of all global emissions.

“On one hand, the land sector involves activities that are fundamental to the human experience; growing food and constructing homes and clothing. So as you’d expect, land use emissions are significant. Yet on the other hand, the land sector is unique in its ability to suck up carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soils and trees. The proactive nature of the land sector makes it different from all other emitters,” said Doug Boucher, director of UCS’s Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative.

The report shows that the land sector’s emissions could be reduced and sequestration increased after 2020 in Brazil, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, the European Union, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States. One of the reasons why the land sector is so important is that there are a variety of ways to reduce emissions, including reducing emissions from deforestation, peatlands, methane from cattle, nitrogen from overfertilization and other land-based activities. The report suggests that taking steps now to cement this post-2020 action to reduce emissions from agriculture, deforestation and forest degradation while increasing carbon sequestration will be essential to closing the emissions gap.

Of the eight countries, the United States has the greatest potential for reducing land use emissions. The U.S. could reduce net emissions by 2 gigatons by 2020 and by 3 gigatons in 2030 through decreasing emissions from livestock, fertilizer and soil; reducing food waste and consumption of high-emissions foods; and increasing sequestration through reforestation. Part of the reason the United States’ potential for emissions reductions is so significant is because, unlike other countries, it has not yet made major investments in land use mitigation efforts.

Over the next couple months, many countries will release their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions – the emission reduction targets that will form the basis of a new climate deal to be finalized next year in Paris – to the world. As these eight countries prepare the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, the potential reductions in land use sector emissions cannot be overlooked.

“To close the emission gap, we’re going to need to reduce emissions from as many sectors as possible. But the situation is not hopeless. This report shows that there is significant potential for greater climate mitigation out there on the land,” said Boucher.

Boucher discusses this report further in a blog post on UCS's The Equation.


The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.

Wall Street-Funded Democrat PAC to Spend $1 Million in Bid to Unseat Tlaib: Report

"Imagine spending $1 million to oust Rashida Tlaib instead of organizing in Detroit to make sure Michigan goes blue," quipped one progressive group.

Brett Wilkins ·

Parents Demand Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty 'For the Sake of the Children'

"We cannot remain silent as the fossil fuel industry and world leaders rob our children of a livable future," parents from 32 nations wrote in an open letter.

Brett Wilkins ·

'We Can Do Better' Than Biden's Paltry Student Debt Relief Plan, Says AOC

The president's approach, said the New York Democrat, is "just enough to anger the people against it *and* the people who need forgiveness the most."

Julia Conley ·

Right-Wing Supreme Court Poised to Make US Gun Carnage Even Worse

The U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing majority could soon "obliterate even the mildest of gun regulations in service of its gun lobby masters."

Kenny Stancil ·

'Enough Is Enough!': Thousands Protest Outside NRA Convention in Texas

"I'm just tired of the NRA subordinating children's rights for gun rights," said one gun lobby opponent just three days after the school massacre in Uvalde.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo