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Climate and Land-Use Change

Monday, March 4, 2019 at 2:55pm to 4:20pm

Plant Science Building, 233

Presented by Johanne Pelletier (Atkinson Center - TNC NatureNet Fellow, Cornell University)

Land-use change, especially deforestation in the tropics, is one of the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Net CO2 emissions from land-use change were on average equivalent to 1.5±0.7 GtC (5.3±2.6 GtCO2) during 2008-2017, accounting for about 12% of all emissions from human activity. Forests and soils also play a major role as carbon sink and reservoir. Impetus to curb deforestation has led to the mobilization of international efforts around a new mechanism under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD+) and increase absorptions by forests. This line of action to mitigate climate change is attractive for multiple reasons, including for the co-benefits that standing forests can provide and because these mitigation actions can have an immediate impact on our climate. Focusing mainly on three case study countries, including Panama, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia, I will show that various methodological and social characteristics complicate the successful implementation of these mitigation strategies. Emission and absorption estimates from forests and land management have large uncertainty compared to other sectors of activities. This matters especially in a context where countries would receive result-based payments for reducing deforestation. Drivers of deforestation are often difficult to address and vary in space and time, and governments in developing countries do not always have the capacity and/or the interest to address those drivers. Furthermore, there are real risks for undermining the livelihoods of forest dependent people in REDD+ participating countries. Nonetheless, there are examples of countries that have been successful at reducing deforestation. Forests and land management will necessarily play an essential role in climate change mitigation for achieving the ultimate goal of the Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement.


The 2019 Cornell University Climate Change Seminar meets Monday afternoons through May 6. This university-wide seminar provides important views on the critical issue of climate change, drawing from many perspectives and disciplines. Experts from Cornell University and other universities will present an overview of the science of climate change and climate change models, the implications for agriculture, ecosystems, and food systems, and provide important economic, ethical, and policy insights on the issue.

The seminar is free and open to the Cornell and Ithaca Community at large.

Organized and sponsored by the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions, and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future

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Event Type



Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Sustainability


CCSSP: Cornell Climate Smart Solutions Program


Contact E-Mail

Peter Hess

Contact Name


Johanne Pelletier

Speaker Affiliation

Atkinson Center - TNC NatureNet Fellow, Cornell University

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