Agriculture contributes substantially to global climate change. The sector accounts for roughly a fifth of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and contributes approximately 15 percent to global GHG emission. The following makes up the sector’s contribution: 1/3 because of methane (livestock) – this is 22 times more intoxicating than carbon dioxide. 1/3 because of nitrous oxide (N fertilizers) – this is 300 times more dangerous than carbon dioxide. The sector’s land use change contributes 15 percent to global emissions. This is a big percentage, comparable in scale to the transportation sector. This ratio can be even higher in developing countries where the agriculture and forestry sectors often account for a majority of total emissions. But, climate negotiators and policymakers have paid relatively little attention to the agricultural sector in the global effort to slow climate change.
In recent years, there have been a number of developments which indicate a positive shift towards incorporating climate into a broader agricultural agenda. Still, more resources are needed to be brought to deal with the complex challenges of the relationship between agriculture and climate change. While it will be a persistent challenge, we have the resources needed to create agricultural systems that are more productive and less GHG intensive.