Analysis by scientists from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the University of Vermont revealed a major gap between the existing mitigation options for the agriculture sector and the reductions needed.
They said the current interventions would only deliver between 21-40 per cent of mitigation required.
The authors have proposed the global institutions concerned with agriculture and food security set a sectoral target linked to the 2degC warming limit to guide more ambitious mitigation and track progress toward goals.
“This research is a reality check,” said Lini Wollenberg, leader of the CCAFS Low Emissions Development research program, based at the University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for Ecological Economics.
“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.”
Agriculture, not including land use change, contributes an average of 35 per cent of emissions in developing countries and 12 per cent in developed countries today.
Yet authors warn efforts to mitigate emissions levels must be balanced with countries’ need to produce enough food, particularly in poorer nations.
“We need to help farmers play their part in reaching global climate goals while still feeding the world,” comments Professor Pete Smith, Theme Leader for Environment and Food Security at the University of Aberdeen and co-author of the paper."
"Reducing emissions in agriculture without compromising food security is something we know how to do.
"A lot can already be done with existing best management practices in agriculture. The tough part is how to reduce emissions by a further two to five times and support large numbers of farmers to change their practices in the next 10 to 20 years.”