We're in a climate and nature emergency.
What is it?
The world’s scientists were brought together to evaluate the connection of the climate emergency to the state of the Earth’s soil’s, coastlines, forests and farm lands, in the most comprehensive assessment to date.
The report brings the relationship between land, greenhouse gas emissions and the outlook for the future of our planet into sharp focus.
Combining the work of 103 of world experts from 53 countries, it is a landmark report which will set the benchmark for our world leaders (including the UK government) to address the climate crisis through a transformation of our land use systems.
Climate change is taking its toll on natureOne in ten UK species is at risk of extinction and over half of UK wildlife is in decline. In the future climate change is expected to become an ever more dominant driver of change.
- The handsome golden plover, which forms a life-long bond with its mate spends it summers roaming moorlands, pecking insects and worms from the ground. But this striking bird, dramatically black and gold in the breeding season, is failing to raise healthy chicks as the peat soil it relies upon for insects is drying out.
- Climate change is forcing mountain ringlet butterflies to retreat further uphill, threating its future in the UK
- The pretty, ocean- loving kittiwake is struggling to find enough fish and sand eels to survive
Why is it important?
The report finds that the way we manage land and grow food are major causes of climate change due to the carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide that they produce. Conversion and degradation of natural habitats (such as forests, coastal wetlands, peatlands) release carbon dioxide. Deforestation and peatland degradation alone are responsible for about 10-15% of total carbon dioxide emissions.
In other words, the planets soils and vegetation can be both a source and a sink for greenhouse gases. Land and nature (or lack of it) therefore has the potential to worsen or to help solve the global climate emergency.
In the UK, one in ten species is at risk of extinction, and climate change is one of main reasons for this loss.
So, we must tackle the twin disasters of climate crisis and threat of extinction in tandem.
What should we do about it?
The good news is that we can transform the way we use land in ways that helps address climate change, benefit human health and safeguard nature by protecting wildlife habitats.
For example, habitats that are important for nature, such as forests, meadows, coastal wetlands and peatland, store and sequester carbon.
Protecting and restoring these areas could have a huge effect: a range of studies estimates that it could deliver one third of the emissions reductions and increased carbon storage needed to keep warming below 1.5°C.
How do we know where to begin? Our scientists have mapped the carbon in nature-rich areas across the UK and found that a colossal two gigatons of carbon could be at risk of loss from these habitats to the atmosphere because of lack of protection or poor management. This would equate to the equivalent of four years of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Two thirds of the carbon found in these maps sits outside protected nature sites, so we must move quickly to protect and restore these areas while we can.
Imagine a world in which our precious ecosystems are protected and restored, and in which people and nature can thrive
To realise this vision, we are asking people to take to the streets with climate strikers on 20th September. We are hoping that one million people across the country join in to demand an end to the age of fossil fuels and the beginning of an era in which we successfully protect and restore nature at home and overseas, to meet the needs of people, nature, and the climate.
We need everyone there to send the message loud and clear to our government: nature is in crisis and we are facing a climate emergency. It is time to act.