The BBC is reporting that IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) will state later this week that ‘Climate change can't be halted if we carry on degrading the soil’.

Soil contains three times the amount of carbon than is found in the atmosphere, making it a vital part of efforts to mitigate climate change.

Responding to the BBC’s report, Dr Jacqueline Hannam, Senior Research Fellow in Pedology at Cranfield University, said: "While most of the mainstream debate, particularly in the media, focuses on atmospheric emissions, the role soil plays in tackling climate change is often overlooked. Keeping carbon locked in soils is a vital part of mitigating climate change but sadly across the world soils are being degraded and carbon is being released back into the atmosphere. 

"There are a number of steps we can take to protect soils including avoiding deforestation, introducing regenerative practices into agriculture, and reducing the pressure to intensively produce food by eating less meat and wasting less food. Taking these actions now and continuing them over the long-term is vital in order to preserve soils across the world and the critical role they play in the health of the planet.”

Cranfield University received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2017 for its research and education in large-scale soil and environmental data for the sustainable use of natural resources in the UK and worldwide. This was the first time in the Prize’s history that an award has been given for soil science.

Cranfield has a long history of soil science research and education. In England and Wales alone, the equivalent of over 200 years of fieldwork has identified over 750 different types of soil. Together with a unique, parallel international soils archive, the University has created the largest collection of soil information in Europe.    

The University has also been designated by (DEFRA) Department for Environment and Rural Affairs as the national reference centre for soils.

You can hear Dr Jacqueline Hannam discussing soils and climate change with environmentalist George Monbiot on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme here (from 2hrs and 43 minutes).

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.