The 30X30 Forests, Food and Land Challenge: we’re calling on businesses, states, city and local governments, and global citizens to unite and take action for better forest and habitat conservation, land use, and food production and consumption practices to deliver up to 30% of the climate solutions necessary by 2030 to tackle the climate crisis. 

To fight climate change, we must change the way we use land.

  • Agriculture, forestry and other land uses account for about 12 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year; only the energy sector emits more.
  • Forests, grasslands, mangroves and other critical habitats are already fighting climate change by pulling greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, where they heat the planet. When we destroy or degrade those habitats, it releases those gases back into the atmosphere and diminishes the ecosystems’ capacity to reabsorb them. 

To accelerate progress, we’re issuing the 30X30 Forests, Food and Land Challenge

  • Businesses, states, city and local governments, and global citizens must unite and take action for better forest and habitat conservation, land use, and food production and consumption to deliver up to 30% of the climate solutions needed by 2030 to tackle the climate crisis.
  • Hundreds of companies already have committed to eliminate deforestation and habitat loss from their supply chains and to setting science-based targets to reduce emissions. More companies need to step up to make these commitments, but as importantly, companies, cities, states and other leaders need to work together to meet these goals.

The GCAS comes at a critical moment in time: halfway between reaching the historic Paris Agreement and the 2020 deadline to chart a more aggressive course to implement it:

  • At COP21, nearly every nation in the world committed to limiting increases in global average temperatures to well below 2oC, with best efforts to limit warming to 1.5oC; by 2020, we need to take actions that will put us on track to reaching these goals.
  • National governments took responsibility, but it’s not theirs alone; GCAS is calling all businesses, financial institutions, state and local governments, and other stakeholders to tell the world what they’re doing now and how they’re ramping up their actions before 2020—encouraging national governments to follow suit 

ABOUT THE CHALLENGES

To achieve this goal, we must:

  • Halve food loss and waste and consume conscientiously.
    • It takes about 14 million square kilometers of land to produce all the food that’s lost and wasted. Food waste contributes more than 4 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
    • Beef, soy, which is largely used for livestock feed, and palm oil are the top drivers of deforestation.
    • By reducing overconsumption and food waste—particularly of foods that drive habitat loss and greenhouse gas emissions—people can significantly alleviate the pressure that our diets put on natural habitats and the climate.
  • Sequester one gigaton of carbon in forests, grasslands and soil each year through conservation, improved forest management and soil health, climate-friendly food production and forestry, restoring habitats and degraded lands, and improved land use planning.
    • By eliminating the loss and degradation of forests, grasslands, mangroves and other habitats from their supply chains, agriculture and forestry businesses can shrink their carbon footprint. In addition, they can increase the amount of carbon that is reabsorbed into the ground by rehabilitating, restoring, and reforesting lands that have been cleared.
      • If deforestation were halted entirely, forests were allowed to regrow, and mature forests were left undisturbed, tropical forests alone could capture 25–35% of all other anthropogenic carbon emissions. (Goodman & Herold, 2014)
      • After implementation of the Amazon Soy Moratorium and the establishment of protected areas, deforestation fell yet soy and beef production increased in the Brazilian Amazon. (Nepstad et al., 2014; Gibbs, Rausch, Munger, Schelly & Morton, 2015)
      • Current productivity of Brazilian cultivated pasturelands is 32–34% of potential. Increasing productivity to 49–52% liberates enough land to meet crop growing demand until 2040 without cutting one single tree. (Strassburg et al. 2014)
    • By employing climate-smart production techniques, food producers can yield food while building up carbon in the ground.
  • Enable better production of food and fiber by unlocking finance, providing tools to increase transparency, fostering public-private collaboration and protecting local rights.
    • New technologies—from satellite monitoring to distributed ledgers like blockchain—can create more transparent supply chains and enable companies to verify their suppliers are producing responsibly.
    • Businesses should collaborate with each other and coordinate more closely with state and local governments to implement climate targets in their supply chains and drive strong policies that create a level playing field for producers.
    • The rights and safety of those on the front lines of habitat loss must be protected: Indigenous Peoples, conservationists on the ground, and local communities.
    • Through innovative financing, lenders and investors can diffuse risk and provide more financial security so producers can invest in improved production practices more confidently. 

MORE KEY FACTS AND FIGURES

Climate

  • Carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have leveled after rising for decades in many industrialized countries. At least 35 countries are growing their economies while curbing emissions.
  • Investment shifts, technology breakthroughs, resilient business, and new government policies show that the low-carbon transition is possible and accelerating around the world
  • Businesses, states and cities around the world are stepping up to advance climate action, switch to renewable energy and prepare for climate impacts.
  • The world is already coping with monster hurricanes, deadly forest fires, crop-withering droughts and record floods. If we fail to raise our ambition, these consequences will become far worse. Hard won development gains of the past decades will be eroded or lost.
  • Should emissions continue to rise, the temperature goals set in Paris can become unattainable and Sustainable Development Goals would be in grave danger of being out of reach.

Food

  • Overall, food production is responsible for 19-29% of GHG emissions and 75% of global deforestation. Food production accounts for about 40% of the total land that people occupy. ( Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security)
    • Food production could drive the loss of 10 million more square kilometers of forest by 2050. (CGIAR)
    • Food production is also responsible for a significant loss of biodiversity. Between 1970 and 2012, global populations of mammals, reptiles, lizards, fish, and birds declined about 58 percent. It’s estimated that food production will be responsible for 70% of the loss of terrestrial biodiversity (CBD), largely by driving habitat loss—the destruction of forests, grasslands, and wetlands—to make room for pastures and cropland.
  • Beef and soy, most of which is fed to livestock, are the leading contributors to deforestation, especially in Latin America which leads the world in forest loss. (Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
  • Eliminating deforestation alone from food production won’t get us to our goal. We need to protect grasslands, wetlands, mangroves and other landscapes, too.
    • In recent years, the Great Plains of the U.S. and Canada lost intact grassland faster than the Brazilian Amazon lost rainforest. (Plowprint Report. World Wildlife Fund. October 2017)
    • As deforestation has slowed in the Amazon, the loss of habitat in the neighboring Cerrado savannah and Chaco woodlands and grasslands has intensified.
    • At the same time, some production practices—such as well-managed grazing of cattle on grasslands, planting cover crops, and integrating livestock, poultry and crop production—can mitigate these impacts and yield environmental benefits.
  • Palm oil is another commodity whose production drives the loss of forests, particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia, and increasingly in Latin America and central Africa.
    • Borneo and Sumatra have lost more than half of their natural forests, and are projected to lose another 27 million hectares of forest between 2010 and 2030. (WWF)
    • In Indonesia alone, palm oil production expanded 10-fold from 600,000 hectares in 1985 to over 6 million hectares by 2007. (WWF)
    • In the summer of 2016, fires burning across Indonesia to clear forest for palm oil plantations emitted more greenhouse gases each day than the entire U.S. economy. (WRI, 2016)
  • Food loss and waste emits greenhouse gases directly and wastes land and energy that further contribute to climate change.
    • Global food loss and waste generate annually 4.4 GtCO2 eq, or about 8-9% of total anthropogenic GHG emissions (FAO).
    • Agriculture also uses 40% of the land people occupy, 70% of the water we consume, and 30% of the energy we use. When food is wasted, these resources are wasted on farms, in the production of fertilizer, and in transportation, processing, and refrigeration.

Forests

  • Forests are the second-largest storehouses of carbon after oceans.
  • About half of the emissions from agriculture, forestry and other land uses (5 – 10 GtCO2e annually) derive from deforestation and forest degradation. (Source: Bastos Lima, M.G., Braña-Varela, J., Kleymann, H., Carter, S. (2014). The Contribution of Forests and Land Use to Closing the Gigatonne Emissions Gap by 2020. WWF-WUR brief no.2.)
  • We urgently need to save the world’s forests. If current trends and actions continue over the next 15 years, 11 of the world’s most ecologically important forest landscapes will be lost. They will account for 80 percent of the loss between 2010 and 2030. (Source: WWF’s Living Forests Report, Chapter 5)
  • It is estimated that nearly six trillion trees were on our planet at the end of the Pleistocene, roughly 11,000 years ago. Now there are just over three trillion. (Source: Crowther, T et al (2015). Mapping tree density at a global scale. Nature Vol 000 pP:1-7)
  • We are losing 7.6 million hectares of forests annually, equivalent to 27 football fields every minute. (Source: FAO Global Forest Resource Assessment 2015)
  • Forests supply many ecosystem services, including removing carbon from the atmosphere; providing protection against floods, landslides, avalanches and ocean surges; providing clean water, fish, medicines and crops; space for recreation and exercise; and places sacred to the world’s various faiths (Source: Stolton, S and N. Dudley [eds.] (2010) in WWF Living Forest Report. 2011. Chapter 1. Forests for a living planet. Page 6.).
    • The value of the services provided by intact tropical forests has been estimated to be an average £4000 per ha per year. (Source: TEEB, 2009b in Convention of Biological Diversity (Secretariat). Technical Series No. 59. 2011. REDD-plus and Biodiversity).
    • Forest loss and degradation is estimated to cost the world economy up to £3 trillion each year in losses to the “natural capital” that provides us with these ecosystem services. (Source: WWF’s 2014 Living Planet Report)
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