New Report Outlines Strategies to Reduce Climate Impact of Global Agrifood System

A new comprehensive report by The World Bank, titled “Recipe for a Livable Planet,” provides a detailed plan for mitigating the agricultural and food sector’s significant contributions to global climate change. The report highlights the agrifood system as a major source of greenhouse gases, responsible for nearly one-third of global emissions, or approximately 16 gigatons annually. This figure surpasses the emissions from all of the world’s heat and electricity production by about one-sixth.

According to the report, the agrifood sector represents a largely untapped opportunity for cost-effective climate action. It outlines potential strategies for the sector to dramatically reduce its carbon footprint while continuing to meet global food demands. One of the key methods proposed is enhancing carbon sequestration through improved ecosystem and soil management practices.

The financial implications of transitioning to a more sustainable agrifood system are significant but deemed highly beneficial. The report suggests that annual investments in the sector need to increase 18-fold to $260 billion by 2030. This investment would aim to halve current agrifood emissions, setting a trajectory towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The anticipated return on these investments is substantial, potentially yielding up to $4.3 trillion in health, economic, and environmental benefits by 2030—a 16 to 1 return on investment.

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“Recipe for a Livable Planet” also outlines differentiated roles for countries based on their economic status. High-income nations are encouraged to foster renewable energy within the agrifood sector and transition towards sustainable dietary practices. These countries are also positioned to play a pivotal role in supporting low- and middle-income nations through technology transfer and financial support for sustainable agrifood practices.

For middle-income countries, where three-quarters of emission reduction opportunities lie, the focus is on reducing emissions from livestock and rice production, promoting healthy soil practices, and minimizing food loss and waste. Low-income countries, on the other hand, are advised to concentrate on green growth strategies, particularly avoiding deforestation for agricultural expansion, which is a major source of emissions in these regions.

The report underscores that implementing these changes in the agrifood system will not only help in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions but also enhance food security, make the food system more resilient to climate changes, and ensure that vulnerable populations are protected during the transition to sustainable practices.

This roadmap sets a clear agenda for global cooperation and action, emphasizing that every country has a role to play in achieving a sustainable and climate-resilient agrifood system.


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