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Greenhouse gas removal in the land sector – addressing the gaps

25 April 2017

A University of Bristol academic will lead one of seven topic-specific projects announced yesterday by NERC as part of a £8.6million research programme which will investigate ways to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to counteract global warming.

The Paris agreement commits countries to limit climate warming to 'well below 2 degrees C' but modelling studies show that it is unlikely that we will be able to meet the target without removing a significant quantity of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Options for achieving this include large-scale afforestation, forest management, agricultural management to increase the uptake of carbon in soils, and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage of emissions.

196 countries have submitted emission reduction pledges under the Paris Agreement (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, INDCs) with the land sector, accounting for about a quarter of planned mitigation, mainly from reduced deforestation and forest management.

A large gap exists between pledged mitigation and what is necessary to achieve a 2 degrees target and specific information is necessary on land sector Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) options. 

This project, led by Dr Joanna House from the University's School of Geographical Sciences and Cabot Institute, will quantify the emissions reduction gap in the land sector at a country level (for major countries), and analyse the potential land sector contribution to closing the emissions gap, and raise the ambition of countries’ future pledges.

Transparency in reporting and verifying greenhouse gas emissions, as required under the Paris Agreement, is essential to ensure mitigation effectiveness.

This project will work with both the science and policy communities to join up approaches to support action towards the Paris agreement in the land sector.

Dr House said: "This project offers a great opportunity to do some timely work that will help with achieving the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement.  

"The land sector is key in greenhouse gas removal, providing a quarter of mitigation potential pledged by countries under the Paris Agreement.  

"Our work will go towards ensuring transparency, accuracy and efficiency of land sector removals, raising ambition for even great efforts in the future."

More information about the overarching research programme can be found here.

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