The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report – released in Geneva today – shows how improved land management can tackle climate change.

To support policy makers in responding to the reality that a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions come from land use, agriculture and forestry, a list of near term actions are set out in the report, including the roll out of early warning systems for extreme weather and climate events – which impact food security; and the promotion of better diets.

“Some dietary choices require more land and water, and cause more emissions of heat-trapping gases than others,” said Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II. “Balanced diets  featuring plant-based foods, such as coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, and animal-sourced food produced sustainably in low greenhouse gas emission systems, present major opportunities for adaptation to and limiting climate change.”

The Special Report on Climate Change and Land is the first ever report from the IPCCC, the world body for assessing the state of scientific knowledge related to climate change, where more than half the authors come from developing countries.

“Governments challenged the IPCC to take the first ever comprehensive look at the whole land-climate system. We did this through many contributions from experts and governments worldwide. This is the first time in IPCC report history that a majority of authors – 53% – are from developing countries,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.

The launch of this historic report is another step in building a global system of actions that can deliver adaptation and mitigation policies robust enough to feed a growing population sustainably, while also tackling climate change: and is a call to action for a transformation in farming methods.

“At the current levels of human activities, natural land which for centuries has been an asset to climate change has now become a major source of carbon. Uncultivated land is abundant with vegetation that helps absorb carbon dioxide, but now a quarter and a third of all greenhouse gas emissions comes from land use. Our industrialised farming practices are in fact the largest contribution to soil erosion and pollution, and perhaps the biggest hurdle we face is to try and teach about half a billion farmers globally to re-work their agricultural model to be carbon sensitive. I hope the IPCC report creates a larger conversation and grabs the attention of the global political corridors and the general public, and creates a top down and bottoms up process for change,” said Andre Laperrière, Executive Director of Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN).