The role of agriculture and food systems in achieving net zero global GHG emissions
The recently concluded COP26 climate negotiations in Glasgow had a clear topline goal: Secure global net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by midcentury. The phrase “net zero” recognizes that some sectors, such as building, industry, and aviation, are very likely to have positive emissions in 2050. To offset them, at least one other sector must have negative emissions. This is simple math, but we are not yet embracing its implications.
Of the major emitting sectors, agriculture, forestry, and other land use (AFOLU) is currently the only one with serious potential to become a net emissions sink, meaning it can pull more greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere than it emits. This makes AFOLU pivotal to reaching net zero emissions. To achieve a stable climate, we need to put more emphasis and resources toward transforming AFOLU from a net source of emissions to a net sink—the kind of focus that is making transformative change achievable in sectors like power generation and transport. ··