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Project name:

ZEAFOLU - Zero emissions from agriculture, forestry and other land use in the Eisenwurzen and beyond

Project leader: Birgit Bednar-Friedl
Project team: Gabriel Bachner, Jakob Mayer, Eva Preinfalk
Partners: University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Institute of Social Ecology (project leader)
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
ÖAR Regionalberatung
Sponsor: Austrian Academy of Sciences
Duration: September 2017 - September 2021



Transitions towards a low-carbon society will require a fundamental reorganization of society’s metabolism, i.e. the material and energy flows associated with socioeconomic activities. The 2°C target, agreed as fundamental climate target in 2015, requires a massive reduction of global GHG emission until 2050 and more or less complete decarbonisation until 2100. Land use sectors, denoted AFOLU (agriculture, forestry and other land use), will play a decisive role in this context, first as provider of food, fibres, and bioenergy, and second, due to the capability of land to absorb and store atmospheric carbon. Many global assessment models rely on net-carbon sequestration by terrestrial ecosystems to reach the 2°C target. This massively constraints land use, as land-based production is currently a net carbon source, mainly due to deforestation in the tropics, and partly caused by consumption patterns in the industrialized countries. Eliminating carbon emissions from land-based production is thus a promising, if not mandatory, strategy for reaching the 2°C target.
Core of the analysis within ZEAFOLU will be the exploration of the biophysical option space towards impacts on economics, biodiversity, and well_being in an iterative participatory process, i.e. co-production of knowledge. In order to systematically scrutinize the dependency of the option space from biomass trade, we choose a nested analytical design in which we interpret the zero-AFOLU constraint to be reached at four different spatial scales: the rural Eisenwurzen region, a Long-Term Socio-economic and Ecosystem Research platform represents the focus of research, Austria national scale, European and the global level. The analyses and interpretations will allow to gain insights into the fundamentality of the 2°C target and the role, the use of terrestrial ecosystems will play in this context, to scrutinize the role of spatial organization of land use and to identify trade-offs and synergies emerging from employing land-based climate change mitigation strategies. A particular focus will be laid on the analysis of urban-rural interlinkages as well as to identify leverage points to trigger a transition towards a Low Carbon Society in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Assoz. Prof. Mag. Dr.rer.soc.oec.

Birgit Bednar-Friedl

Phone:+43 316 380 - 7107, 8446

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