Worldwatch Report #188: Innovations in Sustainable Agriculture: Supporting Climate-Friendly Food Production

by Danielle Nierenberg and Laura Reynolds

ISBN: 978-0-916468-58-3
Publication Date: December 2012
38 pages

Summary

Higher temperatures and unpredictable weather events are disrupting life sustaining agriculture in many parts of the world, derailing efforts to reduce hunger and poverty in the world’s poorest regions. Because agriculture relies on healthy soil, adequate water, and a delicate balance of gases in the atmosphere, farming is the human endeavor most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. At the same time, agriculture is a major driver of human caused climate change, contributing anywhere from 25 to 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The good news is that agriculture, when done sustainably, holds an important key to mitigating climate change. The United Nations estimates that the global agricultural sector could potentially reduce and remove 80 to 88 percent of the carbon dioxide that it currently produces. Practices such as using animal manure rather than artificial fertilizer, planting trees on farms to reduce soil erosion, and growing food in cities all hold huge potential for shrinking agriculture’s environmental footprint and mitigating the damaging effects of climate change.
 
By tapping into the multitude of climate-friendly farming practices that already exist, agriculture can continue to supply food for the human population, as well as income for the world’s 1.3 billion farmers. Climate-friendly agriculture also can play a critical role in the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the mitigation of climate change.