The fight against climate change begins in the soil

A few days ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) once again warned of the urgent need to act to prevent climate change. This lastest section, focused on mitigation and adaptation strategies, highlights the role played by urban areas. They represent a major opportunity to increase resource efficiency and decarbonize at scale.

Among hundreds of recommendations, the report points to the effect urban extension can have on agricultural lands and forests and its implications for the loss of carbon stocks. Indeed, soil is one of the world’s main carbon sinks. It stores two to three times more carbon than is present in the atmosphere. Climate change is therefore partly taking place under our feet and territorial planning has a decisive role to play in protecting the soil.

In France, the capacity of soils to store carbon has been declining for more than a decade. However, the National Low-Carbon Strategy is expecting an increase in their storage capacity in order to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. As carbon stocks can take several decades to recover, protecting soils is essential to meet this target.

That is why, La Fabrique de la Cité suggests to prioritize the climate objective in the application of the Zero net artificialization objective. This is the subject of our new note entitled: Developing a zero net land-use policy for the National Low-Carbon Strategy.

Thus, to align this objective with the National Low-Carbon Strategy, La Fabrique de la Cité proposes:

  • To give priority to the climate objective in the legal definition of land-use and compensation
  • To ensure that soil carbon stocks are considered a decisive parameter in in the drafting of the various spatial planning documents
  • To legally reinforce the protection of soils with high carbon stocks through the establishment of a national soil nomenclature and the creation of a new legal tool for local authorities.

Ultimately, our purpose is twofold. On the one hand, we wish to highlight the link between soil and climate, which is still little known. On the other hand, we want to propose solutions so that local authorities can tackle this highly important issue.

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La Fabrique de la Cité

La Fabrique de la Cité is a think tank dedicated to urban foresight, created by the VINCI group, its sponsor, in 2010. La Fabrique de la Cité acts as a forum where urban stakeholders, whether French or international, collaborate to bring forth new ways of building and rebuilding cities.

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