A new study on agricultural emissions by the independent organization Climate Action Tracker (CAT) concludes that changes in agricultural practices, combined with different diets and food waste reduction, can fight global warming.

Agriculture is responsible for about 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions and for up to 50% of non-CO2emissions.

According to the study, which was published on January 23, “to limit warming to 2°C, we need to reduce non-CO2 agricultural emissions by at least 1 GtCO2e/year—an 11%–18% reduction by 2030 (and larger reductions thereafter) (…).  However, to meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C warming limit, that reduction would need to more than double to 2.7 GtCO2e/year.”

In order to reach this goal, changing agricultural practices is important, but not enough. “Changing farm practices could lead to a reduction of 0.6 GtCO2e/year, but when combined with changing diets away from beef and dairy and reducing food waste, we could achieve a reduction of around 3 GtCO2e/year, possibly enough to decarbonise the sector to a 1.5°C pathway,” said Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute.

The main sources of non-CO2 emissions in agriculture are enteric fermentation, manure, synthetic fertilisers, rice cultivation, crop residues, and cultivation of organic soils. For the Climate Action Tracker, rice cultivation and synthetic fertilisers – the source that’s seen the strongest increase in emissions – stand out as the main areas of concern.

The full study can be read here.

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