Energy production is the largest source of these emissions, but agriculture contributes a significant share—about 24%, according to the World Resources Institute. Clearly, improving the way we produce food is critical in the fight against climate change.
By 2050, the global population will grow to 9.7 billion and demand for food will double. In addition to setting aggressive commitments around energy, world leaders in Paris and beyond must take steps to make our food system more sustainable.
Protect forests, grasslands and other native landscapes
Trees, grasses, and other plants that make up native landscapes keep carbon in the ground and out of the atmosphere where it drives climate change. Governments must protect forests, grasslands, and other wild habitats from being converted to cropland or pasture. That way, they can slow climate change and also protect thousands of species that call these landscapes home.
Promote healthy soil
Soil is not just dirt; it’s an ecosystem teeming with life that’s critical to crop production. It’s also a good tool to curb climate change; plants absorb carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil. Healthy soil can also boost productivity, reduce chemical use, improve water quality and conservation, and build resilience. Governments and businesses alike should encourage and support farmers who adopt good soil practices.
Use water more efficiently and curb pollution
Longer and more severe droughts are already stressing food production. At the same time, the overuse of fertilizers and other chemicals contaminates rivers, coasts, and oceans. Managing water and waste can help farmers withstand volatile weather and keep our waterways clean.