New IPCC report on mitigation of climate change: how to track actions with Earth observations?

Blog / Lucia Perugini / June 3, 2022

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the Working Group III (WGIII) report Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of climate change on 4 April 2022. The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) was approved by IPCC member governments following a multilateral review with WGIII drafting authors.  Coming one month after the publication of the WGII report on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, this  is the third part of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be completed this year

The report allows us to visualize pathways of alternative futures that converge on some key messages: all sectors need to contribute, a radical and sustainable transition is required, and all regions need to work together towards the common objective to make this a planet where all societies can live in decent conditions.

As a basis for this transition, it is essential to fully understand the status of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the different sectors for informed policy planning and robust monitoring of the actions undertaken.

According to the report, the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector is the most uncertain due to the sector's current high emissions and sinks. There is an ongoing need to develop and refine emission factors, improve activity data, and facilitate knowledge sharing related to inventories and accounting. Uncertainty about CO2 and CH4 fluxes is limited, for example, by a lack of information on CO2 emissions from forest management and the burning or draining of organic soils (wetlands and peatlands)

Better monitoring of the soil CO2 balance, including the effects of land degradation and restoration efforts (for instance, in tropical and boreal regions) is urgently needed and requires the use of a combination of remote sensing, artificial intelligence, ground-based observations, and modeling tools. Better estimates would lead to more reliable projections of Nationally Determined Contributions to GHG emissions reduction and enhancement of sinks, and reconciliation of national accounting and modelling results.

The GEO community can contribute greatly to improving the Earth observation system by providing data for national GHG inventories, near-real time emissions monitoring, methodologies, and data for tracking the effectiveness of mitigation measures with targeted actions across key sectors (including AFOLU, Urban systems and other settlements, Energy systems, Industry, Transport).

The Global Forest Observation Initiative (GFOI) is a good example of a partnership generated in GEO and hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which has already provided significant support to developing countries’ monitoring systems for forest land. Inge Jonckheere (FAO), GFOI Capacity Building Co-chair, is one of the WGIII lead authors. Further developments of GEO capabilities in other sectors and cross-cutting aspects, such as innovation, technology development and transfer are ongoing and need to be accelerated to effectively support the process with full consideration of national needs, especially in developing countries


About the author

Lucia Perugini

Dr Lucia Perugini Senior Scientist at CMCC Foundation, IPCC and UNFCCC delegate, Co-chair of GEO Climate Change Working Group, GEO Principal Alternate of Italy.


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