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Agriculture cutbacks needed to meet Paris climate agreement

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Washington: Paris climate agreement cannot be met sans cutting emissions from farming, according to a recent study.

Scientists from the University of Vermont, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and partner institutions calculated, for the first time, the extent to which agricultural emissions must be reduced to meet the new climate agreement’s plan to limit warming to 2 degree C in 2100.

They estimated that the agriculture sector must reduce non-CO2 emissions by 1 gigaton per year in 2030. Yet in-depth analysis also revealed a major gap between the existing mitigation options for the agriculture sector and the reductions needed: current interventions would only deliver between 21-40 percent of mitigation required.

The authors warn that emission reductions in other sectors such as energy and transport will be insufficient to meet the new climate agreement. They argue that agriculture must also play its part, proposing that the global institutions concerned with agriculture and food security set a sectoral target linked to the 2 degree C warming limit to guide more ambitious mitigation and track progress toward goals.

“This research is a reality check,” comments researcher Lini Wollenberg. “Countries want to take action on agriculture, but the options currently on offer won’t make the dent in emissions needed to meet the global targets agreed to in Paris. We need a much bigger menu of technical and policy solutions, with major investment to bring them to scale.”

119 nations included mitigation in agriculture in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions submitted to the UNFCCC. However, no work has been carried out to determine how these pledges will be accomplished.

Focusing more attention to sequestering soil carbon, increasing agroforestry, decreasing food loss and waste and shifting dietary patterns could all contribute significantly to reducing emissions from agriculture, according to the authors. However, much less work has been done on mitigation of emissions from these sources, so action is needed now to identify options and their impacts.

The study appears in the journal Global Change Biology. (ANI)

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