Carbon removal intensifies competition for land

By Sara Schonhardt | 05/13/2024 06:16 AM EDT

Climate projects could squeeze small farms and threaten food supplies, a new report says.

A woman works on her small farm in Sacapulas, Guatemala.

A woman works on her small farm in Sacapulas, Guatemala. Johan Ordonez/AFP via Getty Images

Projects aimed at pulling climate pollution from the sky are ratcheting up competition for land, with potentially dire consequences for food production and livelihoods.

Carbon removal and tree planting initiatives are among the growing pressures on land use, according to a new report from the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems, a global think tank.

Many of those activities, which also include biofuel production and large-scale solar projects, are aimed at meeting global climate targets, but they also encroach on land needed by small-scale farmers and indigenous communities as they struggle to cope with the effects of a rapidly warming planet, say experts.


“We are really risking reaching a tipping point for small-holder farming,” said Sofía Monsalve Suárez, a member of the food systems panel and secretary general of FIAN International, a human rights organization focused on food and nutrition.