The land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF) sector plays a crucial role in achieving global climate targets, but there are differences between  how scientists and countries account for its emissions. An IIASA study shed light on these disparities, revealing significant implications for global climate targets.

Recognizing the significance of effective land management in meeting climate targets, 118 out of 143 countries have incorporated land-based emissions reductions and removals into their Nationally Determined  Contributions (NDCs).

Differences in defining managed land and human-induced carbon fluxes have however led to differences between scientific models and national inventories in estimating land-based emissions. The study, led by  researchers in the IIASA Energy, Climate, and Environment Program, highlighted the importance of reconciling these differences to accurately assess progress toward global climate targets.

The authors assessed key mitigation benchmarks after aligning emissions scenarios with inventories, finding that achieving the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement will require earlier net-zero CO2 emissions, stronger emission reductions by 2030, and significantly lower cumulative CO2 emissions.

The findings underscore the necessity for countries to set distinct targets for land-based mitigation separate from other sectors, to ensure alignment with global climate objectives, and emphasize the urgency of clarifying  national climate goals and enhancing comparability between global models and national inventories. The authors advocate for concerted efforts to bridge the gap between emissions estimated by scientific assessments and national inventories, which are vital for advancing towards a sustainable and resilient future.