What the COP26 methane pledges for agriculture mean – EURACTIV.de

The agricultural sector, one of the world’s largest emitters of methane, will be directly affected by the first global commitment to reduce methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030 compared to 2020 levels.

The new global pledge on methane was announced in the early days of COP26, the crucial United Nations climate conference, which is still being held in Glasgow.

According to European Commission estimates, the promised 30% could reduce the projected warming by at least 0.2°C by 2050.

Methane is a short-lived greenhouse gas (GHG), but it can store more heat than carbon dioxide, 84 times more heat over a 20-year period.

Intestinal fermentation – gaseous emissions from ruminants such as dairy and cows – is the largest source of methane associated with human activities. The rice sector follows, where underwater microbes in rice fields release the gas that makes up 20% of man-made methane emissions.

Agnes Kalibata, Special Envoy for Food Systems at the recent UN Summit, said the commitment gives food systems an opportunity to provide a climate solution by reducing agriculture-related emissions.

The initiative, which brought together 103 other countries, was led by the United States and the European Union, which together cause 46% of the world’s methane emissions and account for 70% of the global economy. These included many countries with livestock such as Brazil, Canada, Argentina and New Zealand.

However, some countries with high methane emissions have not adhered to this commitment, including China, India, Australia, and Russia.

Innovation and behavioral measures

Global commitment focuses on engineering measures such as feed additives that are then made Information from the United Nations It could reduce sector emissions by 20% annually by 2030.

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Science and technology can help by supporting innovative feed ingredients that reduce methane emissions from enteric fermentation.

In recent years, new methods for estimating or estimating methane emissions from livestock farming have been promoted.

In Kenya, a method has already been introduced to generate local data on methane and nitrous oxide emissions from livestock farming, which is used to report core greenhouse gas emissions to the United Nations.

Although they welcomed the initiative, environmentalists were disappointed by the lack of reference to behavioral measures such as changing eating habits or fighting food waste, which, according to several NGOs, could lead to a reduction of up to 57% over decades. the next few.

Harriet Bradley of the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) believes the commitment is to reduce agricultural emissions, but only on the production and consumption side.

“The focus here is on efficiency improvements such as feed additives to reduce methane,” she told EURACTIV, adding that there is no mention of reducing meat consumption or switching to a vegetarian diet, especially in rich countries.

Methane reduction in the European Union

The European Union has taken steps to reduce methane production since 1996 when the Commission planned to cut landfill emissions by nearly half.

But at the end of October, the European Parliament asked the Commission for the first time to introduce a legislative proposal that would make methane emissions mandatory as part of measures to combat climate change.

Green environmental activists welcomed the news, and Human Society International said it showed MPs had resisted “cynical attempts” to play down allegations about emissions related to animal husbandry.

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The European Union Farmers’ Association COPA-COGECA welcomed the move in principle, but regretted that the European Commission was again asked to set out binding measures and reduction targets.

“Given local conditions, it should be left to farmers to decide which practices and measures to implement are best,” she said in a call.

[Bearbeitet von Alice Taylor]

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