Significant progress has been made at COP26 in both reducing the impact of climate change on the agriculture sector and lowering the sector’s contribution to global warming.
Climate change induced increases in temperatures, rainfall variation and the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events are adding to pressures on global agricultural and food systems. The changing climate is also adding to resource problems, such as water scarcity and soil degradation.
While agriculture is a victim of climate change, it also contributes to it. The main direct agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are nitrous oxide emissions from soils, fertilisers and manure from grazing animals; and methane production by ruminant animals and from paddy rice cultivation. Both gases have a significantly higher global warming potential than carbon dioxide.
Against the background of these impacts, a breakthrough decision was made at COP22 in 2017 with the adoption of the ‘Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture’ (KJWA) which provides a road map to address issues related to agriculture in a holistic manner through a series of international workshops on the topic.
AT COP26, governments considered the outcomes of the last three workshops of the Koronivia road map, which saw input from global experts, international organizations and financing entities, and found significant agreement on all three topics under consideration.
Gustavo Mozzer from the Brazilian delegation underlined the significance of the work achieved: “Brazil welcomes the outcome attained in the KJWA process and congratulates Parties and the secretariat for their efforts. The KJWA process is strategic to highlight the particular vulnerability of agriculture to the impacts of climate change and the need to catalyze efforts to strengthen cooperation for scientific development and action on behalf of food security.”
Herwig Ranner, speaking on behalf of the European Union (EU) said: “The EU welcomes the positive outcome of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture. It acknowledges the need for a transition towards sustainable and climate-resilient food systems, taking into consideration food security and ending hunger throughout the globe, as well as to achieve climate objectives such as emission reductions.”
At COP26, governments recognized that soil and nutrient management practices and the optimal use of nutrients lie at the core of climate-resilient, sustainable food production systems and can contribute to global food security. It was also recognized that while livestock management systems are vulnerable to climate change, improving sustainable production and animal health can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions while enhancing sinks on pasture and grazing lands.
Governments agreed on the need to continue working on Agriculture under the UNFCCC process with a view to adopting a decision at COP 27 in 2022. They recognized that the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture has an impact on financing entities and can help to better align international organizations and processes in their work on agriculture and climate change.
Furthermore, there was acknowledgement of how the working mode of the KJWA promotes inclusivity through knowledge sharing between decisions makers, farmers, indigenous peoples, women and youth.