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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 22, 2017

Agriculture can curb planet warming emissions ‘immediately,’ says UN

By Alex Whiting, Reuters | Nov 10, 2017

BONN, Germany — The global agricultural sector can curb emissions immediately and provide a window for fossil fuel-guzzling energy and transport sectors to decarbonise before global warming spirals out of control, the United Nations said on Friday.

“In the next few years ... agriculture ... could produce early results immediately, cost-effectively and all over the world,” said René Castro of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) at climate talks in Bonn.

That will give energy and transport sectors time to switch to renewables “to really take us out of the precipice and the path we are going on which is far beyond the goal of 2 degrees Celsius,” he said.

Global temperatures are expected to rise 3 degrees above pre-industrial levels under current plans to curb emissions. This is far above the goal enshrined in the 2015 Paris climate agreement which limits warming to well below 2 degrees.

Scientists say that any rise above 2 degrees takes the planet into dangerous weather patterns with increased droughts, more frequent and powerful storms and floods.

Small island states, many of which are already suffering the effects of rising sea levels and powerful storms, want the warming limited to 1.5 degrees.

“Agriculture is a large source of powerful greenhouse gases ... but has great potential to store carbon and reduce greenhouse gases in our lifetime,” said Helena Molin Valdes, head of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition Secretariat.

Agriculture, forestry and changes in land use together produce 21 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, making them the second largest emitter after the energy sector, according to FAO.

Christian Schmidt, Germany’s federal minister of food and agriculture, said: “(Agriculture’s) potential to offer climate change solutions is enormous.”

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