While particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, agriculture is also a major contributor to the problem. Along with land use change, it represents 22% of total global GHG emissions. About half of this is directly linked to production, resulting in emissions of methane and nitrous oxide, while the other half (mainly carbon dioxide) is strongly driven by deforestation and carbon losses in soils due to agricultural expansion.
The production emissions account for 42% of all global methane emissions and 70% of nitrous oxide emissions. These gases have a very strong global warming effect: methane from agriculture is 27 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over a 100-year timescale, and nitrous oxide is 273 times as potent.
Agriculture can also be part of the solution, by removing carbon from the atmosphere through carbon sequestration. Methane and nitrous oxide emissions can be reduced through improvements in productivity, practices and technologies, and the adoption of less emission-intensive food consumption patterns.