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Mitigating Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
A Review of Scientific Information for Food System Planning
Tara L. Moreaua,*, Jennie Mooreb, and Kent Mullinixc
http://dx.doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2012.022.007, pp. 237–246
Agriculture contributes significantly to anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs), with estimates of agriculture's contribution ranging from 10% to 25% of total global GHG emissions per year. The science regarding mitigating (reducing and removing) GHGs through agriculture is conflicting and inconclusive. However, the severity and urgency of climate change and its potential effects on food security demonstrate that we must include mitigation within food system planning frameworks. In British Columbia, Canada, the provincial government has established significant GHG reduction targets for its agencies, and has called on local governments to reduce their carbon footprints through a charter and incentive, as well as through growth management legislation. At the same time, local governments, are giving increased attention to development of local/regional agri-food systems. However, GHG mitigation efforts do not yet seem to factor into local agri-food system discussions. Although frameworks for reporting agriculture GHGs exist, local government measurement of agriculture mitigation is hampered by a lack of agriculture GHG inventories, limited data availability, and the inherent variability in agriculture emissions and removals due to the dynamic nature of farm ecosystems. With the goal of informing local governments and food system planners on the importance of agriculture GHG mitigation, this paper (1) reviews the science of GHGs, (2) describes sources of agriculture GHG emissions and illustrates potential mitigation practices, (3) discusses the variability of agriculture mitigation science, (4) highlights the importance of agriculture GHG inventories, and (5) emphasizes the necessity for local agriculture mitigation strategies.
agriculture, carbon sequestration, climate change, food systems, greenhouse gas (GHG), GHG inventory, GHG mitigation, local governments
Note: Funding for this project was provided by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.
Banner photos include a Cape Cod cranberry bog; a cranberry “screen house” used to grade fresh cranberries; farmland near Lake Placid, NY, in the Adirondack Mountains; Montmorency cherry trees on the Mission Peninsula of northern Michigan; the historic Round Barn in the South Mountain Apple Belt of Adams County, Pennsylvania; the “Sea of Grapes” district of the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt, near Erie, Penn; a field of cabbages near Shortsville, NY, home to one of the world’s largest sauerkraut factories. All photos copyright by Duncan Hilchey.
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