Deforested rainforest

Land Gap Report Briefing Note:
2023 Update

About the Update

We reviewed climate pledges for all UN Members. This includes 197 countries as well as the EU. From this review of pledges, it was possible to quantify the land area requirements for 142 pledges that relied on carbon dioxide removal, including land and forest restoration, reforestation, and for a very small number of countries, BECCS.

The update takes into account new country pledges submitted during the last year and analysis that provides new information on previous pledges. It highlights that a few high and upper-middle income countries are responsible for over 85 per cent of total land use required to deliver climate pledges. These pledges over-rely on land-based carbon dioxide removal in latter decades to reach their net-zero goals, in many cases with little detail about how this will be delivered. This risks insufficient near-term climate action in all sectors and makes clear the need for more credible pathways to net zero

Key Messages

Governments have proposed approximately 1 billion ha (hectares) of land for land-based carbon removal as part of their climate mitigation pledges.

A billion ha is more than the combined areas of South Africa, India, Turkey and the European Union.

Restoration accounts for about 50 percent of land-based pledges. This does not require land use change, and allows ecosystems to recover more of their carbon storage capacity.
Tree planting (afforestation and reforestation) accounts for the other 50 percent of land-based pledges. It usually involves land-use change, and can be in tension with the goals of food security, ecosystem resilience, and the rights of local communities.
A few high-income, high-emitting countries are responsible for almost 75 percent of total land use within climate pledges. This risks insufficient decarbonisation ambition in sectors like power generation and heavy industry in those countries.
These land-based pledges risk delaying climate ambition as many countries rely on sequestration after 2030 or even 2050, to compensate for the absence of near-term climate action.

Transparency of pledged climate action in the land sector is critical.

More credible plans for climate resilient, ecologically sustainable and socially responsible land sector strategies are needed in country mitigation pledges.

Land Gap Report 2023 Brief cover

Download the 2023 update

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