More resources need to be dedicated to sustainable agriculture if the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement are to be met, according to sector leaders and experts speaking at the UN Climate Change Conference. During a session on Friday, a key takeaway was that investing in agricultural climate action, especially in terms of small-scale farmers and those in rural areas, will unlock much greater potential to curb emissions.
The livestock sector, for example, could readily reduce emissions by about 30% with the adoption of best practices, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
Several actions can help transform the agricultural sector, according to experts at the session. These include:
- Scaling up public and private climate finance flows to agriculture, and use them in a catalytic manner. Climate finance flows continue to favor mitigation over adaptation, and focus overwhelmingly on energy systems and infrastructure. These imbalances should be addressed.
- Incentivizing public-private partnerships. Strong dialogue and collaboration between the public and private sectors is key to ensure alignment between public policy and private sector investment decisions in agriculture and throughout the entire food system.
- Strengthening a multi-sector and multi-stakeholder dialogue towards more integrated approaches. Integrated approaches to landscape management will require enhanced coordination of policy and climate action across multiple public and private entities.
- Investing in knowledge and information. Additional analyses are needed to better identify the institutional barriers and market failures that are inhibiting broader adoption of climate-resilient and low-emissions agricultural practices in individual countries, regions and communities.
- Building capacity to address barriers to implement climate action. Agricultural producers require additional capacities to understand the climate risks and vulnerabilities they face, and respond accordingly.
Agriculture is a large source of powerful greenhouse gases like methane and other short-lived climate pollutants, but sustainable agriculture has great potential to store carbon and reduce greenhouse gases. “That’s why we support and advocate for countries to improve their livestock emissions inventories,” said Helena Molin Valdes, head of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition.
Organic growing practices could be one way to reduce greenhouse gases, according to a recent study, which indicates that soils on organic farms store away “appreciably” larger amounts of carbons, and for longer periods, than typical agricultural soils. The study is proof that not only do organic agricultural practices help fight climate change, but they also build healthy soils, according to the release from The National Soil Project at Northeastern University and the Organic Center.
On average, organic farms have 44% higher levels of humic acid, the component of soil that sequesters carbon over the long term, than soils not managed organically, the study found.
Agriculture is one of the main causes of the depletion of carbon in the soil and the increased presence of carbon in our atmosphere, according to a different study published by the National Academy of Sciences. Organic farming can play a key role in restoring soil carbon and in reducing the causes of climate change, the new study suggests.
Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons, StateofIsrael