Agriculture must “urgently” contribute more to reducing climate change, providing clean water and preventing drought. At the climate summit in Dubai, 134 countries, including the United States, Brazil, Indonesia and European countries such as the Netherlands, concluded agreements on this topic.
For the first time, agricultural sector adjustment and food system changes are being discussed in depth at a UN climate conference. The statement shows that global warming, loss of nature, crop failure due to drought and floods, lack of clean water and farmers’ loss of income are linked to each other. Signatory countries refer to scientific reports issued by the Scientific Climate Committee of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They argue that the Paris Agreement can only be implemented if agricultural and food systems also change.
When introducing the agreement, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called it a “milestone.” “We need to redefine where and how we produce food on this land. The mission is to grow crops with lower greenhouse gas emissions, and that starts with better soil management.
Greenhouse gases are released in agriculture due to the use of fossil fuels. Livestock manure also causes greenhouse gas emissions, and the production of animal feed such as soybeans increases carbon dioxide, especially if nature disappears to make agriculture possible. Plants, including agricultural crops, also absorb carbon dioxide2 From the sky.
‘This is exactly what we need’
150 NGOs also signed the declaration, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). It’s a framework for integrating agricultural change into climate action, says WWF food expert João Campari. “This is exactly what we need at a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Signatory countries produce 75 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions from food, and consume 70 percent of all food worldwide.” the world.
The agreement stipulates, among other things, that countries will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food production, that they will protect or restore ecosystems and biodiversity, that they will use water more effectively, and that they will combat food waste. At the same time, the agreements are concerned with farmers’ income and the production of sufficient food for all. The agreement calls on governments to protect communities that depend on food production and clean water in a given area.
Concrete plan in two years
The agreement assumes that increasing production should not be at the expense of nature, but protecting the ecosystem is a condition for the food supply. Blinken said millions of people around the world lack food, as drought, floods and other extreme weather events disrupt food production.
What countries should do remains unclear. It also depends on local conditions, because the diet in Asia is different from, for example, in Europe or South America. There are even differences depending on the region within the country. In Europe, reducing livestock numbers is one option: greenhouse gases in agriculture are caused, among other things, by methane that forms in manure. It is also possible to store more water in peat areas, for example. There, greenhouse gases escape through oxidation. The agreement stipulates that each country will present a concrete plan within two years, at the next climate summit.
WWF believes the agreements represent a major achievement. Campari: “This keeps hope alive for ecosystems that are essential to sustaining life on Earth. It should lead to urgent action to protect, sustainably manage and restore ecosystems. This recovery is particularly needed in systems damaged by unsustainable food production.”
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