Climate stabilization—a double-edged sword?

Despite adverse side effects of land-based mitigation, study shows that limiting greenhouse gas emissions benefits global biodiversity

Data resources used via GBIF : 566,184,545 species occurrences
Ursus maritimus
Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) observed near Churchill, Manitoba, Canada by rharris70. Photo via iNaturalist (CC BY-NC 4.0).

Climate change is a threat to all life on Earth and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is a crucial mission of The Paris Agreement within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Substantial GHG mitigation, however, may require significant land-use change, such as large-scale bioenergy crop production and afforestation. With land-use change being the largest driver of biodiversity loss to date, can the positive effects of GHG mitigation outweigh the negative effects of land-use change?

By comparing a GHG mitigation scenario to baseline in terms of changes to distribution models powered by GBIF-mediated data of more than 8,000 species of plants and animals, this study by researchers from Japan suggests that biodiversity overall can benefit from climate stabilization despite potential side effects of land-based mitigation.

Their results show that while some regions with much growth in land-based mitigation efforts (i.e., Europe and Oceania) are projected to suffer biodiversity losses, stringent GHG mitigation may bring a net benefit to global biodiversity—particularly in the latter half of the century.

Original article

Ohashi H, Hasegawa T, Hirata A, Fujimori S, Takahashi K, Tsuyama I, Nakao K, Kominami Y, Tanaka N, Hijioka Y and Matsui T (2019) Biodiversity can benefit from climate stabilization despite adverse side effects of land-based mitigation. Nature Communications. Springer Science and Business Media LLC 10(1). Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-13241-y.