Mitigation Update: Agriculture and Soil Management in the Spotlight
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Soil management could “make or break” climate change mitigation efforts, according to a report by the FAO.

The OECD’s third Environmental Performance Review of New Zealand shows that the country’s gross greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have increased by 23% since 1990, and agriculture accounts for 49% of its emissions.

21 March 2017: Recent news has put agriculture and soil management in the spotlight, as soil is shown as a crucial carbon reservoir, and agriculture is responsible for a significant share of New Zealand’s emissions. This Update features these and other developments, that relate to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 (climate action).

Soil management could “make or break” climate change mitigation efforts, according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO). Plants and other organic residues absorb carbon and keep it in the soil, creating a reservoir of carbon, that, according to FAO, could be re-released back into the atmosphere by rising temperatures and other disturbances. The report recommends better information and good practices to help end hunger (SDG 2) while adapting to and mitigating climate change (SDG 13). The report was launched at the Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon where Fijian president Jioji Konousi Konrote warned that “if we fail to maintain our soils as a carbon reservoir, I am afraid that these discussions and negotiations [for the Paris Agreement] would have been in vain.” [FAO Report] [FAO Press Release]

To help countries develop agricultural strategies in the context of climate change, the UNFCCC and the FAO signed an agreement that facilitate the cooperation. The agreement will include policy advice, data sharing and promotion of access to knowledge by agricultural smallholders. It will also facilitate capacity building and sharing technical expertise between the staff of the UNFCCC, FAO and developing countries’ representatives. [FAO Press Release on UNFCCC/FAO Partnership]

Agriculture accounts for 49% of New Zealand’s emissions, the highest share in the OECD.

Agriculture was also one of the issues addressed by the third Environmental Performance Review of New Zealand carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The Review shows that the country’s gross greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have increased by 23% since 1990. Despite largely decarbonizing its power generation, intensive dairy farming, road transport and industry have led to the increase in emissions. Among OECD members, New Zealand sits second highest in terms of emissions per GDP unit and fifth highest in emissions per capita. Agriculture accounts for 49% of New Zealand’s emissions, the highest share in the OECD. [OECD Press Release]

Key to mitigating emissions from all sources is the ability of countries to rely on sound statistics. To this end, Argentina and the International Energy Agency (IEA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to increase collaboration on energy statistics. The MoU includes information on “G20-related energy issues” and cooperation on disseminating energy data collection standards and methodologies. Argentinian officials will benefit from training and capacity building. Argentina will host the G20 in 2018. [IEA Press Release]

In other news related to information on renewable energy, the World Bank, in partnership with the Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB), launched a series of new solar maps for Pakistan. The maps will help plan and expand access to sustainable and affordable sources of indigenous energy in the country, in keeping with SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy). Pakistan joins a small group of mostly developed countries to have such solar maps. It is also the first country to benefit from validated solar maps under a global initiative on renewable energy resource mapping led by the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP). [World Bank Press Release]

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