Most support does little to address climate change

 

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Agriculture is a major contributor to climate change globally. Along with forestry and other land use, it represents around 22% of anthropogenic GHG emissions. These emissions consist of methane and nitrous oxide directly generated by agricultural activities – livestock, rice cultivation and fertiliser use - and indirect carbon dioxide emissions through land use change, such as carbon losses in agricultural soil, and deforestation.

Global net anthropogenic emissions from agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU) and other sectors
Total and decomposition by gas, annual average for 2010-19

Source: OECD (2022), Agriculture Policy Monitoring and Evaluation 2022.

The 54 countries covered in the report contribute about two-thirds of direct agricultural GHG emissions globally. And two-thirds of these emissions relate to livestock specifically. However, only 16 of these countries have set some form of mitigation target specific to their agricultural sector, which can help to focus efforts and measure progress. Therefore, there is significant scope to intensify and accelerate emissions reduction in the sector.

Direct GHG emissions from agriculture
2019

Source: OECD (2022), Agriculture Policy Monitoring and Evaluation 2022.

Unfortunately, many of the existing support policies to agriculture also contribute to increasing the sector's emissions. Significant levels of support continue to be provided to high-emission commodities, such as beef and veal, sheep meat and rice, which together represent 47% of direct emissions across the 54 countries covered. Most producer support also corresponds to measures that have the greatest potential to harm the local environment and natural resources.

Emission intensity mapped to single commodity transfers (SCTs)

Source: OECD (2022), Agriculture Policy Monitoring and Evaluation 2022.

However, agriculture can also play a key role in reducing global emissions!

On the supply side, countries can increase productivity and efficiency in input use, adopt production techniques reducing emissions, increase soil carbon sequestration, afforestation and restoring degraded lands, and reduce food losses in the field and on the farm.

When it comes to demand, countries can mitigate emissions by providing information and incentives to consumers to shift the emissions intensity of their food choices, and to reduce household food waste.


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