IPCC Report: We have the solutions to fight climate change. But do we have the will to act?

For those of us who track the latest news and science on climate change, today is a big day.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its report on Climate Change and Land Use. The report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries, finds that land and water resources around the world are under increasing human pressure, made even worse by a rapidly changing climate. These factors combined are putting humankind at dire risk of not being able to feed itself.

A lot of the coverage I’ve seen about this report release has, rightfully so, focused on the many contributing factors to climate change: deforestation, agricultural emissions, consumer choices, and more.

But that’s not the angle I want to take here. The report is not all bad news. In reading the coverage of the report’s release, this quote from a New York Times piece caught my attention:

“One of the important findings of our work is that there are a lot of actions that we can take now. They’re available to us,” Dr. Rosenzweig said. “But what some of these solutions do require is attention, financial support, enabling environments.”

This is an important point that we should not ignore. We have the tools to fight climate change. The challenge is generating the collective will to make the changes we know are needed.

At AFT, we’re focused on doing just that with work initiatives aligned well with the report’s prescribed actions:

  • Accelerate knowledge and technology transfer to enhance the sustainable use of resources in a changing climate. AFT does this every day working on the ground with farmers to implement soil health practices that improve the economic and environmental outcomes of their operations, including through the implementation of technology.
  • Raise awareness, capacity building, and education about sustainable land management practices, agricultural extension and advisory services, and expansion of access to agricultural services to producers and land users can effectively address land degradation. Through our regional offices AFT works directly with farmers and with conservationists, land protection partners, planners, and legislative bodies, along with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services and its local Soil Conservation offices to build awareness and capacity for conservation work on land.
  • Measure and monitor land-use change. In 2018, AFT’s Farms Under Threat research revealed the alarming loss of farmland to development nationally in the U.S, and in January 2020 we will release a “State of the States” report showing localized loss.
  • Provide information on climate-related risk can improve the capacity of land managers and enable timely decision making. The third phase of AFT’s Farms Under Threat research will reveal climate threats to land.
  • Empower women, because it can bring synergies and co-benefits to household food security and sustainable land management. AFT’s Women for the Land program empowers women to take conservation action on their land through women-dedicated learning circles which give them the opportunity to meet other landowners, share their farm successes and challenges, discuss their goals for their land, and access advice and technical assistance to help them implement conservation practices on their land.

To learn more about our work on climate, visit www.farmland.org/climate.