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NAIROBI: A new report from Oxfam says just using land to achieve net zero by 2050 will need at least 1.6 billion hectares of new forest, more than all the planet’s farmland.

The aid organisation notes the net-zero climate promises of just four of the world’s largest oil and gas corporations ―BP, Eni, Shell and TotalEnergies― would require them to cover land more than twice the size of the UK with trees to achieve net zero by 2050.

To limit warming below 1.5°C and prevent irreversible damage from climate change, it says the world should be on track to reduce carbon emissions 45 percent by 2030 from 2010 levels, with the sharpest cut being made by the biggest emitters.

With less than 100 days before government leaders meet at the UN COP26 in Glasgow, more than 120 countries, including the US, China and the EU, have pledged to reach net-zero by mid-century. Oxfam suggests their current plans will only achieve a one percent reduction by 2030 from 2010 levels.

In a recent report it noted a 40 percent rise in global food prices over the past year and says mass tree planting could see global food prices surge 80 percent by 2050.

“Nature and land-based carbon removal schemes are an important part of the mix of efforts needed to stop global emissions, but they must be pursued in a much more cautious way,” explained Nafkote Dabi, Climate Change Lead for Oxfam International. “Under current plans, there is simply not enough land in the world to realize them all. They could instead spark even more hunger, land grabs and human rights abuses, while polluters use them as an alibi to keep polluting.”

Oxfam is calling on governments prior to the November UN summit to take the following action:

• Adopt a much stronger focus on cutting carbon emissions by 2030 to avoid inevitable climate breakdown.
• Prioritizes ambitious climate action by the G20 to ensure global heating is kept below 1.5°C.
• Companies must cut emissions in their own operations and supply chains now. The fossil fuel industry cannot use net zero as a prop for continuing business as usual.
• Establish transparent targets that distinguish between reducing and removing carbon and avoid blurring the boundaries with short-term (2030), medium- (2040) and long-term targets.
• Land use must ensure zero hunger. Where land is used for climate mitigation, nature-based solutions must strengthen the rights and livelihoods of local communities and protect ecosystems.
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