greenhouse gas emissions

Report: Food-system change ‘startlingly absent’ from countries’ climate change commitments

Food systems account for roughly a third of global greenhouse emissions worldwide, yet a new analysis finds that strategies to reform how food is grown, processed and consumed are “startlingly absent” from most countries’ plans to tackle climate change. (No paywall)

Less food, more wildfires in North America with climate change

Global warming "is causing dangerous and widespread disruptions in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world," said a UN climate change report on Monday. Hotter weather and shifts in rainfall are likely to reduce food production in North America and are a risk to food security, said a fact sheet on climate change's impacts on the continent.

USDA to put $1 billion into climate-smart pilot projects

The USDA will spend $1 billion on climate-smart pilot projects, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Monday, delivering on a pledge made last September to help farmers develop a market for sustainably produced commodities. The demonstration projects could change the shape of U.S. farm policy, but the clock already is ticking toward the 2023 farm bill and funding for climate mitigation is not certain.

The new California gold rush into anaerobic digesters

There's money in manure for California dairy farmers with anaerobic digesters that capture methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from their cattle's manure. Each cow on a farm with a digester can generate $2,827 a year in air pollution and biofuel credits for methane that would otherwise go into the atmosphere, calculated Aaron Smith, a professor at UC-Davis.

World Bank sees gains for climate and economy if ag policies are revised

If governments encourage climate-smart farming, they would see an increase in agricultural productivity and a sizable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by agriculture, said a report by the World Bank and the IFPRI think tank on Wednesday. The report advocates a "repurposing" of agriculture policies and subsidies.

California isn’t going green fast enough to meet goals

California’s getting greener, but it needs to pick up the pace. The state won’t meet its 2030 emissions goals until 2050 unless it takes aggressive action, according to a recent report by the nonprofit Next 10 called the 2021 California Green Innovation Index.

Agriculture emerges from COP26 with focus on methane and innovation

The USDA would work with farmers to reduce agricultural emissions of methane, said the White House in describing the domestic impact of the UN climate summit in Scotland. The United States also is a leader in the Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate, designed to accelerate breakthroughs in climate-smart farm production.

Report: Governments must ‘drastically improve’ efforts to reduce emissions in food, land-use systems 

As the first week of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) winds down, a new analysis of emissions-reduction pledges finds that those countries that have contributed the most to climate change have committed to do far too little to reduce emissions from the food system and leverage the carbon sequestration potential of landscapes. (No paywall)

Report: Fertilizer responsible for more than 20 percent of total agricultural emissions

As the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) gets underway in Glasgow, a new report finds that synthetic nitrogen fertilizers are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than previously thought, outpacing even the commercial aviation industry. The report, from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Greenpeace and GRAIN, urges a swift transition toward more sustainable food production in order to avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change.(No paywall)

As COP26 nears, activists say agriculture should be a bigger part of the agenda

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), which starts Oct. 31 in Glasgow, has been billed as a “turning point” for humanity and the “last, best chance” of averting climate disaster. And given the growing awareness of the central role that food and agricultural systems play in climate change—both as a cause and as part of a potential solution—many activists say that the sector is not as big a piece of the COP26 agenda as it should be. (No paywall)

Keep climate-smart agriculture in ‘Build Back Better’ bill, say lawmakers

While Democratic leaders in Congress are trying to scale down the cost of President Biden's social welfare and climate change bill, it is important to make "bold investments ... that expand climate-smart agriculture practices," said two House Democrats. The members of the House Agriculture Committee said the money should be funneled through voluntary programs already offered by the USDA.

Major economies pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30 percent

Eight countries plus the EU are supporters of the Global Methane Pledge, an initiative to reduce emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas by 30 percent by the end of this decade, said officials in Washington and Brussels over the weekend. More than one-third of greenhouse gas emissions by U.S. agriculture are methane.

Opinion: The sustainable-energy future has room for biofuels as well as electric vehicles

With the Biden administration and the major U.S. automakers investing heavily in electric vehicles, rural Americans — especially those connected to farming — are concerned about the future of biofuels. Given that ethanol, primarily made from corn, is blended with the gasoline that powers the vast majority of the nation’s vehicles, the prospect of replacing gasoline with electricity has enormous implications for the rural economy. In 2019, the global biofuels market amounted to over $136 billion.(No paywall)

California’s organic-waste law set a high bar, but most cities struggle to reach it

In 2016, California passed the nation’s most ambitious restrictions on landfilling food and yard waste, with the aim of slashing the greenhouse gases these organic materials generate when buried. The law mandated turning the waste into compost or biogas, with a goal of cutting landfill disposal by 50 percent, from 2014 levels, by the end of 2020 and 75 percent by 2025. But already, cities have fallen behind on setting up the costly systems for collecting and processing this waste. Starting Jan. 1, 2022, lagging communities could be fined up to $10,000 a day.(No paywall)

Senate passes first-ever climate mitigation bill for agriculture

Senate Agriculture chairwoman Debbie Stabenow was certain on Thursday that the House would follow the Senate in passing the first-ever climate mitigation bill for agriculture. Under the bill, the USDA would help farmers enter the carbon market, touted as the private enterprise way to earn money while combating climate change.

Opinion: How farmers can be at the forefront of the climate solution

More than a half century after the first Earth Day, with our planet in worse shape than it’s ever been, the challenge of slowing global warming and the environmental, economic and social devastation underway can sometimes feel like too much — too expensive, too complicated and too politically divisive to overcome. But when we wake up every morning in rural Marion County, Iowa, we aren’t filled with despair. We’re filled with hope in a revolutionary idea: that farmers will help mitigate climate damage that farmers will help mitigate climate damage if we pay them to make their operations more resilient and sustainable. (No paywall)

Biden nominates USDA climate adviser to oversee farm supports

Robert Bonnie, named USDA climate adviser on the same day President Biden took office, will soon be in charge of all farm support programs, from land stewardship to farm subsidies and crop insurance, if confirmed by the Senate. Biden nominated Bonnie for undersecretary for farm production and conservation, arguably the highest-profile sub-cabinet post at USDA, on Friday.

Big increases for rural power, WIC, ag research in Biden proposal

Most of the increased spending proposed by President Biden for USDA's so-called discretionary accounts would go to three things: Rural electricity, WIC and agricultural research. If approved by Congress, the money would accelerate the shift to cleaner electricity, help low-income families put food on the table and, as part of climate mitigation, find ways to verify carbon sequestration and greenhouse-gas reduction on the farm, said the White House.

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