IPCC warns on bioenergy but hydrogen accelerates


The use of bioenergy needs to be carefully managed to avoid risks to food security, biodiversity and land degradation, the UN’s top experts on climate change have warned.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the world body for assessing the state of scientific knowledge related to climate change – said keeping global warming to well below 2ºC can be achieved only by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors including land and food.

On Wednesday in Geneva the world’s governments approved the IPCC’s Summary for Policymakers of the Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL).

The IPCC said the report shows that better land management can contribute to tackling climate change, but is not the only solution and that reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors is essential if global warming is to be kept to well below 2ºC, if not 1.5ºC.

Jim Skea, co-chair of an IPCC working group, said: ‘Land plays an important role in the climate system.

‘Agriculture, forestry and other types of land use account for 23% of human greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time natural land processes absorb carbon dioxide equivalent to almost a third of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry.'

The IPCC warned that bioenergy – derived from recently living organic materials – needs to be carefully managed to avoid risks to food security, biodiversity and land degradation.

It said land must remain productive to maintain food security as the population increases and the negative impacts of climate change on vegetation increase.

The document states: ‘While land can make a valuable contribution to climate change mitigation, there are limits to the deployment of land-based mitigation measures such as bioenergy crops or afforestation. Widespread use at the scale of several millions of km2 globally could increase risks for desertification, land degradation, food security and sustainable development.’

Separately, an EU flagship project said it had reached a key milestone, with hydrogen-powered vehicles travelling over eight million km to date. Hydrogen Mobility Europe (H2ME) said this demonstrates vital importance of hydrogen to achieving zero-emission mobility.

The project has now deployed nearly 500 hydrogen-powered fuel cell, electric vehicles and 30 hydrogen refuelling stations across Germany, France, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom and other European countries.

Ben Madden, director at Element Energy and project lead and co-ordinator said: ‘Governments at a national and local level are putting in place concrete targets to reduce emissions and accelerate the switch to zero-emission mobility.

‘The H2ME project demonstrates that hydrogen can play a central role in this shift, ensuring that all road users have the option to participate in the transition, thanks to its ability to provide fast refuelling and long range.

'Today, we can already see an acceleration of the use of hydrogen as a fuel in heavy-duty and high demand applications, such as taxis, delivery vehicles and trucks.’

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