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      Soil carbon farming has the potential to bridge the global emissions gap

      In review


            There is growing interest globally in soil health and the role that enhanced soil organic carbon (SOC) can play in climate change mitigation, resilience, and food security. Different initiatives for SOC sequestration (SCS), such as Project Drawdown, ‘4p1000’ and RECSOIL have been proposed yet SCS commitments and targets are missing from the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the 2015 Paris Agreement and the UNFCCC Global Stocktake. This paper asks whether a single, locally relevant target could be developed for SCS that would encourage widespread adoption of soil carbon removals practices by farmers and land managers globally? We used 210,00 local soils profiles from the World Soil Information System to assess the SOC potential of 2,352 million ha of agricultural land, identified with the Landsat Global Land Cover classification. Based on the local characteristics of the carbon sequestration capacity of soils, we found that a one percent average increase in SOC storage in croplands, pasture and irrigated fields would have the potential to sequester 84.9 GtC or 311 311 GtCO 2-e [range 159 – 447 GtCO 2-e]. This represents more than a decade of the emission reductions needed to have a chance of remaining on a 2°C or 1.5°C or Net Zero pathway. We argue that a one per cent target is easy to communicate and understand, especially as most farmers and land managers who regularly test their soils are familiar with the soil carbon percentages of their land.


            Author and article information

            UCL Open: Environment Preprint
            UCL Press
            8 October 2023
            [1 ] Institute for Global Prosperity University College London ( https://ror.org/02jx3x895)
            [2 ] Downforce Technologies;
            Author notes
            Author information

            This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

            : 8 October 2023
            Funded by: funder-id http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100014013, UK Research and Innovation;
            Award ID: CMNO-UK CMCK-UK. FID118986070

            The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available in the repository: http://www.fao.org/food-agriculture- statistics/data-release/data-release-detail/en/c/1454718/ ; https://www.isric.org/explore/wosis.
            Earth & Environmental sciences,Agriculture,Geosciences
            Net Zero pathway,Land classification,Policy and law,Emissions gap,NDC,Soil Carbon Sequestration (SCS),Soil carbon storage potential,Soil properties,Climate,Carbon farming,Sustainable development


            Date: 23 October 2023

            Handling Editor: Dr Craig Styan

            This article is a preprint article and has not been peer-reviewed. It is under consideration following submission to UCL Open: Environment for open peer review.

            2023-10-23 08:55 UTC

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