Agriculture and Greenhouse Gas Emissions


A Zondits Rundown: Agriculture and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  • Research estimates agriculture produces about 13% of total global emissions, making it the world’s second-largest source, after energy production.
  • Researchers estimate that current technologies, policies, and practices will get us just 21% to 40% of the way to the 2015 Paris Agreement global emissions target—meaning many nations will need to become much more ambitious.
  • A more comprehensive target for the 2°C limit should be developed to include soil carbon and agriculture-related mitigation options.
  • The discontinuity between possible mitigation and probable outcome indicates that more transformative technical and policy options will be necessary to reduce non-CO2 emissions.
  • study, published in Global Change Biology, indicates that a preliminary goal for agricultural non-COmitigation by 2030 to stay within the 2°C limit is 0.92 to 1.37 GtCO2e/yr or about 1 GtCO2e.
  • In 2014, greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture accounted for approximately 9% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture have increased by approximately 11% since 1990.
  • One of USDA’s goals is to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030. Removing that organic waste from household trash streams would, for instance, help reduce landfill emissions of methane, a potent warming gas.

Agriculture Wasn’t Included In The Paris Climate Deal, But It Will Be Crucial To Meeting Its Goals

ThinkProgress, May 19, 2016. Image credit: Hans

Agriculture, which accounts for nearly a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, was not mentioned in the body of the Paris agreement. And a new study suggests that agriculture might be falling short of what is really needed to achieve the goals set forth in Paris.

According to the study, published Tuesday in Global Change Biology, in order for the world to have a chance of staying below 2 degrees Celsius by 2100 — the goal of the Paris agreement — the agricultural sector would need to ramp up mitigation to the point that, by 2030, it is reducing emissions by 1 gigaton a year. Unfortunately, the study found, current mitigation strategies in the agricultural sector only get the world between 21 and 40 percent of the way toward what is required to keep the planet well below 2 degrees Celsius.

That means that emissions reductions from sectors like transportation or energy won’t be enough to keep the world below 2 degrees Celsius — the agricultural sector will need to considerably ramp up its investment in, and deployment of, technology to help farmers and food producers mitigate their own emissions.

There’s some indication that countries are already moving to ramp up their commitment to reducing agricultural emissions. Some of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, like the United States and the European Union, have released plans to help curb agriculture’s contribution to climate change. Just last week, the United States Department of Agriculture released a report documenting the progress it has made in the last year on its plan to help farmers and food producers reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and pledged to invest another $72.3 million in an initiative aimed at boosting carbon storage through the soil. In the EU, France is also leading the way with investments looking at soil’s potential for sequestering carbon, through the “4 pour 1000” initiative that aims to increase carbon soil storage by 0.4 percent, the annual increase needed to offset human emissions.

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