Context and stakes

An established climate disruption...

Climate change and its consequences are recognized as one of the major threats for the 21st century. The increase in the number of extreme weather events confirms how serious global warming is.

The consequences of global warming include more frequent and violent extreme weather events, but also longer-term processes: the impact on flora and fauna due to the increase in temperature, the rise in sea level due to the melting of glaciers and ice floes and the increase in the volume of the oceans, the irregularity of the intensity and distribution of rainfall, etc.

The 6th IPCC report, released in August 2021, attests once again to the urgency of the situation, a situation that is certain to intensify and accelerate if GHG emissions are not stopped in the next twenty years.

... caused by human activities

Explanations: in the past, the climate of the planet has been modified by natural GHG emissions such as volcanic activity, biodegradation of plants, etc. Current climate changes, on the other hand, are due to the increase of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as a result of human activities (orange curve in the graph below).

The steady increase in GHG concentrations in the atmosphere over the last 30 years has and will have an impact on the temperature of the atmosphere in the short, medium and long term.

Did you know?

The main greenhouse gases are water vapor (H₂O), carbon dioxide (CO₂), methane (CH₄) and nitrous oxide (N₂O).

global warming index © U. Oxford, ECI.png

Identify and promote carbon sinks

While the climate crisis seems inevitable, there are solutions to mitigate or even counter its effects: reducing the sources of emissions by saving fossil fuels, developing the bioeconomy and the circular economy, and increasing the capacity to absorb GHGs by developing and protecting terrestrial carbon sinks, mainly forests and soil. Solutions for adapting to new climate conditions must also be put in place.

The SeqCOI project focuses on the agriculture and land-use change sectors called the AFOLU sector. It mainly emits nitrous oxide and methane; CO₂, on the other hand, is mainly emitted during land use changes, during deforestation for example.

The objective of the SeqCOI project is to provide policy makers in Reunion, Madagascar and Rodrigues with a reliable, easy-to-access and easy-to-use tool for calculating the GHG balance (emissions - storage) of the AFOLU sector on their territory. The different territories will thus be able to be valued for their capacity either to neutralize GHG emissions, i.e. to absorb as much as they emit, or to constitute carbon sinks (emissions < storage).

AFOLU Sector: Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use

This sector of activity is crucial for its impact on food security, resilience, climate change mitigation and territorial development

Soil in the fight against climate change

After COP21 in Paris and COP22 in Marrakech, soil as a solution against climate change is a research topic that has proved interesting to... dig. A short tour of activities on this matter in the Indian Ocean area:

→ The IRD, through its Eco&Sols unit, has been developing research on the issue of carbon sequestration in the soils of hot regions for several decades and has acquired international expertise on the subject. It has been present in the Indian Ocean since 2004 and in Réunion since 2016.

The AIDA unit (CIRAD), in close collaboration with the UMR Eco&Sols at the IRD, have developed an original methodology combining field measurements, methods for characterizing soil carbon stocks by infrared spectroscopy and spatial imaging.

→ This local offer in Réunion, the result of a partnership between the IRD, CIRAD and ADEME, has enabled the development of original and innovative methods within the framework of the C@run Project "Carbon sequestration in Réunion's agricultural soils: assessments, spatial modelling and climate change mitigation potential". The project closed at the end of 2018 and the synthesis report is available here. The approach used will be valorized in the SeqCOI project by applying it to our partners' target territories.

→ In Madagascar, the Radio-Isotope Laboratory (LRI) is developing, within the framework of its "Soils and Climate Change" research axis, studies on the impacts of different modes of use and agricultural practices on carbon sequestration in the soil and in plant biomass, with a particular focus on the variables that control this sequestration at different scales.

The 2Carma project (2017- 2019) on "Soil Carbon Mapping in Madagascar" was carried out by IRD-Reunion, with the support of the Prefecture of Reunion under the Regional Cooperation Fund (RCF). In partnership with the LRI, the project has made it possible to compile the island's land use and carbon stock information in a comprehensive database available to users.

→ The LRI and the IRD are the facilitators of the "Soil Carbon for Sustainable Agriculture in Africa" network, known as Casa, a platform for the promotion of optimal organic matter management in agriculture.

The Circasa Consortium for "Coordination of International Research Cooperation on Soil Carbon Sequestration in Agriculture", funded by the EU, aims to structure research on soil carbon, for its role in mitigating the effects of climate change.