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Land-based implications of early climate actions without global net-negative emissions


Delaying climate mitigation action and allowing a temporary overshoot of temperature targets require large-scale carbon dioxide removal (CDR) in the second half of this century that may induce adverse side effects on land, food and ecosystems. Meanwhile, meeting climate goals without global net-negative emissions inevitably needs early and rapid emission reduction measures, which also brings challenges in the near term. Here we identify the implications for land-use and food systems of scenarios that do not depend on land-based CDR technologies. We find that early climate action has multiple benefits and trade-offs, and avoids the need for drastic (mitigation-induced) shifts in land use in the long term. Further long-term benefits are lower food prices, reduced risk of hunger and lower demand for irrigation water. Simultaneously, however, near-term mitigation pressures in the agriculture, forest and land-use sector and the required land area for energy crops increase, resulting in additional risk of food insecurity.

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Fig. 1: AFOLU-related GHG emissions and sequestrations.
Fig. 2: Timing of net-zero emissions for total anthropogenic CO2 emissions (based on GWP100) and AFOLU’s GHG emissions.
Fig. 3: Land-use changes with respect to 2010 in the scenarios with different CB caps.

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T.H., S. Fujimori and K.O. were supported by the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (JPMEERF20202002 and JPMEERF20211001) of the Environmental Restoration and Conservation Agency of Japan and Sumitomo Foundation. T.H. was supported by the Ritsumeikan Global Innovation Research Organization (R-GIRO), Ritsumeikan University. P.R. and R.S. were supported by the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). All authors excluding J.D., K.K. and F.F. received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 821471 (ENGAGE).

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Authors and Affiliations



T.H. designed the research, created figures and wrote the draft of the paper; S. Fujimori, V.K., D.v.V. and K.R. designed the scenario protocol; T.H. and S. Fujimori carried out analysis of the modelling results with notable contributions from T.H., S. Fujimori, Y.O., K.O. (AIM/CGE), P.R., R.S. (COFFEE), M.H. (IMAGE), S. Frank, M.G., B.v.R, A.-M.C., A.D., P.H., V.K. (MESSAGEix-GLOBIOM), J.D., K.K, F.F. (POLES), F.H., C.B., A.P. (ReMIND-MAgPIE), L.D. and J.E. (WITCH); all authors provided feedback and contributed to writing the paper.

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Correspondence to Tomoko Hasegawa.

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Peer review information Nature Sustainability thanks John Antle and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Notes 1–2, Figs. 1–4 and Tables 1–2.

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Hasegawa, T., Fujimori, S., Frank, S. et al. Land-based implications of early climate actions without global net-negative emissions. Nat Sustain 4, 1052–1059 (2021).

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