30 November 2015

Large role for land in country climate pledges

An assessment of the individual country pledges for the Paris climate summit shows that agriculture, forestry, and other land-based factors will play an important role in emissions reductions.

©Akram Ali/CARE Bangladesh Strengthening the Dairy Value Chain (SDVC) project

©Akram Ali/CARE Bangladesh Strengthening the Dairy Value Chain (SDVC) project

Climate plans submitted by countries in the run-up to the Paris Summit could, if fully implemented, deliver significant reductions in the emission of greenhouse gases. Without new climate policies after 2010, the world would emit about 65 GtCO2 equivalents of greenhouse gases by 2030. The unconditional Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), if fully implemented, could reduce emissions by approximately 9 GtCO2eq, according to a new report from the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, which assessed the INDC’s for 102 countries, which are together responsible for 89% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The research served as input as for the climate negotiations. 

IIASA researchers contributed to the report with an assessment of land use change and its impacts on emissions and carbon sequestration. The report shows that the greenhouse gas emissions from land use and land use change, which includes activities such as agriculture and deforestation, will increase over time unless actions are taken. The IIASA study showed that in the submitted INDCs, countries are looking to land use to play an outsized role in emissions reductions. Overall, the study shows that full implementation of submitted INDCs would lead to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from land use and land use change by as much as 2.6  GtCO2eq as of 2030. In other words, approximately one third of the total global emission reduction that would result from the full implementation of all unconditional INDCs are expected to come from the  land use sector. 

The report also included an assessment of land use from the Joint Research Centre, which came to similar conclusions: both studies show that from 2010 onwards, emissions from the land use sector would increase under a business-as-usual scenario. With the INDC’s implemented, both studies show that total emissions from the sector would decrease to below 2010 levels by the year 2030.  However, estimates of the exact emissions reductions from land use vary between the two studies included in the report. 

“This is an important part of the discussion on climate mitigation, but it has been neglected,” says IIASA researcher Nicklas Forsell, who led the institute’s contribution to the report.   “We know that land use could play a major role in climate mitigation, but we need more data from individual countries in order to better assess the exact numbers.”

Full Report

Assessing Intended Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Climate Agreement – what are the projected global and national emission levels for 2025–2030? 

PBL Publication Page

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Last edited: 30 November 2015


Nicklas Forsell

Senior Research Scholar Integrated Biosphere Futures Research Group - Biodiversity and Natural Resources Program


IIASA research at the Paris Climate Change Conference 2015

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