Terrestrial Carbon and Climate Change

Date: 8 Jun 2010
Speaker(s): Ralph Ashton, Andy Gouldson

Where, why and how agriculture, forests and other land use can play their part

As part of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP) 2009-2010 Seminar Series at the University of Leeds

Further reading:


Despite the recent furore in a controversy-hungry media about e-mail communications between some climate scientists and the veracity of some Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) findings, the science of climate change is quite straightforward: human-induced climate change is caused by the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases have only two other places to go: the oceans and the terrestrial system (including land and vegetation).

With our atmosphere overloaded, we have two complementary mitigation options: we can reduce ongoing emissions into our atmosphere (especially from burning fossil fuel and forests), and we can suck greenhouse gases from the atmosphere back into our terrestrial system and oceans.

It is not the science or arithmetic that is a barrier to action on climate change; it is the politics. The main vehicle for that political agreement has been the United Nations. The UN meetings in December 2009 in Copenhagen were a great step forward, but did not “seal the deal” on a global agreement as hoped. The Copenhagen negotiations can be viewed as a partial success for terrestrial carbon, with REDD+ part of the Copenhagen Accord and progress made on agriculture.

This seminar will:

Explain briefly the science and the arithmetic of climate change, with a focus on terrestrial carbon, and outline the status of REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and other activities) and agriculture in international climate change policy

Present highlights of the Terrestrial Carbon Group’s research on technical and policy issues, including a recently released multi-stakeholder Science Roadmap for Terrestrial Carbon

Outline briefly efforts to convene governments and the range of other required players from across the value chain to design and have implemented large-scale, economically-viable demonstrations on REDD+ with consideration of other terrestrial carbon

Explain in detail the Terrestrial Carbon Group’s global terrestrial carbon risk mapping research, and its findings and policy implications

Introduce the Terrestrial Carbon Group’s ongoing work with the Planetary Skin Institute on global agricultural productivity potential

Outline of the Terrestrial Carbon Group’s planned work on moving from a partial treatment of terrestrial carbon (ie, REDD+ and agriculture) to a comprehensive if multifaceted approach (technical and policy)

A discussion will follow.