Slashing farm emissions critical to fighting climate change, John Kerry says

WASHINGTON, May 10 (Reuters) - Cutting greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production is essential to the global fight against climate change, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said on Wednesday.

Agriculture generates 10% to 12% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The food system as a whole - including packaging, transportation, and waste management - generates a third of global emissions, according to a 2021 study published in the academic journal Nature Food.

“We can’t get to net zero, we don’t get this job done, unless agriculture is front and center as part of the solution,” Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate, said at the AIM for Climate summit in Washington.

He said that without cutting agricultural emissions, the world may not reach its goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius - which scientists say must be achieved to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

President Joe Biden has pledged the U.S. will reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Rising global temperatures have severe implications for malnutrition and food security worldwide, Kerry said.

“A 2-degree future could result in another 600 million people not getting enough to eat,” said the former U.S. secretary of state. “You can’t continue to warm the planet while also expecting to feed it.”

AIM for Climate is a global initiative, co-led by the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates, to drive investment in farming practices that cut the sector’s emissions.

At this week’s summit, the U.S. and the UAE announced $13 billion in funding for the initiative from global governments and the private sector.

The UAE will host COP28 at the end of this year and agriculture emissions are expected to be a major theme of the global climate summit. UAE climate minister Mariam Almheiri pledged at the AIM summit on Monday that COP28 will be “a game-changer for food systems.” (Reporting by Leah Douglas; editing by Jonathan Oatis)