This coming weekend, world leaders, businesses, and climate change-makers from nearly 200 countries will congregate in Egypt for the United Nations’ (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP27). One of the topics that many people are hoping will lead to tangible action is the issue of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) emissions that originate from the food and agriculture industry.
Considering that agriculture accounts for 1/3 of the world’s GHG emissions, this is incredibly alarming. The results of this have been felt far and wide. The recent IPCC report has clearly indicated that we need to take drastic measures in order to hit our GHG emissions reduction goals. To make matters worst, we’re also seeing a drastic change in food security. A recently published NASA-led study found that crop production across certain parts of the world, specifically maize yields, could reduce by 24%, a much higher number than they had initially estimated.
Food & Agriculture at COP27 vs COP26
Looking back at COP26, it was evident that food and agriculture was not a main priority, despite the establishment of the Policy Agenda for Transition to Sustainable Food and Agriculture, which “sets out pathways and actions that countries can take to repurpose public policies and support to food and agriculture, to deliver these outcomes and enable a just rural transition”, as well as the Global Action Agenda for Innovation in Agriculture that aims to “close the 'innovation gap' in agriculture and food systems”. While COP26 did produce some incredibly ambitious and important goals, was that enough? We don’t think so.
This year however, we’re more hopeful. At COP27, there will be a Food Systems Pavillion, co-hosted by key industry players such as Infarm, Clim-Eat, Environmental Defense Fund, and Yara International. We know that change makers around the world are going into COP27 with an all hands on deck, guns blazing, ready to make food and agriculture a priority. It’s not a matter of discussion anymore, it’s a matter of implementation.
Re-Nuble’s COP27 Hopes: Ag Tech and Closed-Loop Focused Funding and Policies
1. Clear Goals To Increase Climate-Focused Ag Tech
The Global Alliance for the Future of Food (GAFF) recently published a report which states that governments across the world are only placing 3% of their climate-focused budged towards food and agriculture. Instead, money is being pushed into industrial beef and dairy production or even worst, 70% of these countries lack concrete plans on food and agriculture. Approximately $300-350 billion needs to be pumped into the industry to make it sustainable and resilient. This value is “less than the $611 billion spent annually on farming subsidies, whereby 86% of this funding has potentially destructive impacts on climate, biodiversity, and health”. With this in mind, we would like to see a clear list of steps and target dates that governments will be taking to shift towards climate-focused agriculture technology.
2. A Push For Closed-Loop Policies
Controlled environment agriculture (CEA) players usually choose to embrace closed-loop agriculture either because their business model allows them to do so, or because they operate out of locations that have policies which promote and make it easy for them to become a zero-waste company. A piece that is frequently missing when it comes to food and agriculture policies is the creative re-use of food waste and water circularity especially in natural resource scarce areas. If we look at EPA’s food waste management hierarchy, we’ll see that food waste reduction sits at the top of the action list. Reuse is at the lower end of the steps that should be taken – and understandably so. However, we cannot ignore that changing purchasing and life habits of consumers takes time. How do we solve the issue of food waste then, in that case? We do so through creative closed-loop agriculture methods. We want to see policies that support companies that are bringing closed loop agriculture technologies to the forefront. This will be a huge catalyst for the agriculture industry to re-think its relationship to food waste.
To all of our friends who are working hard to push forward the food and agriculture agenda at COP27, we wish you all the best!
By Riyana Razalee, Head of Business Development & Strategy