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Contribution of the land sector to a 1.5 °C world


The Paris Agreement introduced an ambitious goal of limiting warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. Here we combine a review of modelled pathways and literature on mitigation strategies, and develop a land-sector roadmap of priority measures and regions that can help to achieve the 1.5 °C temperature goal. Transforming the land sector and deploying measures in agriculture, forestry, wetlands and bioenergy could feasibly and sustainably contribute about 30%, or 15 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) per year, of the global mitigation needed in 2050 to deliver on the 1.5 °C target, but it will require substantially more effort than the 2 °C target. Risks and barriers must be addressed and incentives will be necessary to scale up mitigation while maximizing sustainable development, food security and environmental co-benefits.

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Fig. 1: Global net anthropogenic CO2 emission pathways in BAU, 2 °C and 1.5 °C model scenarios.
Fig. 2: GHG emission pathways in the land sector across model scenarios.
Fig. 3: Land-cover balance in million hectares (Mha) in BAU, 2 °C and 1.5 °C model scenarios.
Fig. 4: Global land-based mitigation potential in 2020–2050 by activity type from bottom-up literature review.
Fig. 5: Land-based mitigation potential in 2020–2050 by region.
Fig. 6: Land-sector roadmap for 2050.

Data availability

The modelled data used for this study are available in the IAMC 1.5 °C Scenario Explorer and Data hosted by IIASA. The rest of the data that support the findings of this study are available in the Supplementary Information files and from the corresponding author upon request.


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The design of and analysis in this study was guided by the feedback and recommendations of expert consultations (January and May 2017 workshops in London) and interviews, and we thank all those who contributed: J. Atkins, J. Busch, P. Ellis, J. Funk, T. Gopalakrishna, A. Kroeger, B. Lee, D. Lee, S. Lewis, G. Lomax, D. Mitchell, R. Rajão, J. Rogelj, C.-F. Schleussner, P. West, G. Wynne, A. Yang and D. Zarin. We thank E. Chak and M.-J. Valentino for helping to design the figures. This work was supported by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and the authors’ institutions and funding sources.

Author information




S.R. led the study design and the writing of the paper with significant contributions from D.L., C.S., M.O. and S.F. S.R. and Z.H. conducted the synthesis of 1.5 °C pathways, S.R. and S.F. the model assessment land-sector pathways, S.R. and B.G. the bottom-up mitigation potential, and S.R. and C.S. the land-sector mitigation wedges. M.O., S.F., P.H. and M.G. developed the land-sector pathways and sensitivity analysis in GLOBIOM. B.G., L.D., O.F., N.H., T.H., Z.H., P.H., J.H., G.-J.N., A.P., M.J.S.S., J.S., P.S. and E.S. provided data and/or analysis and drafting of the paper.

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Correspondence to Stephanie Roe.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary methods, Supplementary figures 1-11, Supplementary box 1, Supplementary tables 1-6, Supplementary references

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Roe, S., Streck, C., Obersteiner, M. et al. Contribution of the land sector to a 1.5 °C world. Nat. Clim. Chang. 9, 817–828 (2019).

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