Key research for the sustainable management of land resources

The newly released report explores how the way we use our land contributes to climate change and how climate change affects our land. Never before have humans affected the planet’s resources more extensively than today. This exploitation has contributed to increased greenhouse gas emissions, loss of natural ecosystems and a diminishing biodiversity.

Meanwhile, climate change is adding to these pressures to the land resources. This in turn impacts food security and poses risks to human health, wellbeing and infrastructure.  

Central to the well-being of our society

- Land is central to the well-being of our society. We rely on land resources for many services and products that are frequently in opposition to each other. We expect our land to supply food, feed, fibres, renewable energy and materials, amenities, and at the same time we need to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services, said Professor Francesco Cherubini when launching the report.

Cherubini is one of the lead authors of the report and director of the Industrial Ecology Programme at NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology). NTNU is one of Bio4Fuels’ partners, and Cherubini leads one of the research projects at the FME.

- The current use of land is unprecedented in human history. By 2015 about three quarters of global land area was affected by human land use. This report sheds light on how to best manage land resources under a warming climate, he said.

- The IPCC special report on climate change and land has a very long title: IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems. The length of the title is proportional to the complexity and importance of the topic, said Cherubini.

The NTNU-professor has contributed to chapter six in the report, which explores the links between desertification, land degradation, food security and greenhouse gas emissions and capture. The chapter also looks at synergies, trade-offs and alternatives for comprehensive solutions.

Emissions and mitigation

Human activity contributes to both the emission and mitigation of greenhouse gases. Land management can be an important factor in reducing emissions, but if used too extensively, the cultivation of bioenergy crops can put further pressure on the land. This can lead to increased land degradation and have negative impacts on food security and sustainable development.

According to the IPCC-report, it would be possible to keep global warming under 2 degrees with limited use of land areas for bioenergy and CO2-capture. This, however, would require rapid and extensive changes in the use of energy- and land systems, city planning and infrastructure, as well as big changes to consumer behaviour and lifestyle. 

How can Bio4Fuels contribute?

Bio4Fuels is a Centre for Environment-friendly Energy Research (FME). Its main goal is to develop biofuels that are sustainable from an environmental perspective, as well as economically viable.

The FME aims to develop innovative technology and support industries to realize economic and sustainable conversion of Scandinavian lignocellulosic biomass residues and organic waste to transportation fuels.

- Bio4Fuels has an important contribution to make through the development of technology and value chains for the production of advanced biofuel. We have all the prerequisites for succeeding with this in Norway: the production of biofuels in this country can be based on sustainably produced raw material that does not compete with food production, we have good framework conditions and strong research and technology clusters, said Erlend Grøner Krogstad in the Norwegian Forest Owners’ Federation, a Bio4Fuels-partner. Grøner Krogstad is also on the board of the FME.

-It is very positive that the IPCC has published a special report on climate change and land. Amongst other things, the report illustrates how important sustainable forestry is in reducing global warming, says Grøner Krogstad.

Land management part of the solution

When it comes to advanced biofuels, it is very important to ensure a best possible use of resources in order to prevent an escalation of the climate issues at hand.

- Good land management will be of great importance. This is something the FME also has to address, says Ingo Machenbach from Silva Green Fuel (Statkraft AS), another of Bio4Fuels’ industrial partners.

Machenbach is chair of Bio4Fuels board.

He emphasizes how important the work of Francesco Cherubini and the Industrial Ecology Programme at NTNU is for Bio4Fuels.


About the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land:

  • On 2 – 6 August 2019 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) met in Geneva, Switzerland, to approve and accept Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems (SRCCL).
  • Over two years in the making, the Special Report on Climate Change and Land explores how the way we use our land contributes to climate change and how climate change affects our land.
  • The full title reflects the breadth of the report, which covers: greenhouse gas fluxes related to land; interactions between climate change and desertification, land degradation and food security; land-related impacts and risks; response options that help adapt to climate change; response options that reduce landrelated emissions or enhance the take-up of carbon by land systems; and links to sustainable development more broadly.
  • Read the report
Published 6. September 2019 - 15:22 - Updated 6. September 2019 - 15:48