The Big Industry That COP26 Failed to Tackle
An Environment Article from

FROM Reynard Loki, Earth/Food/Life a project of the Independent Media Institute

November 2021

Considering the growing interest in plant-based eating, the COP26 negotiators missed an opportunity to make dietary and agricultural changes a main thrust of the global climate solution.

captive Cows
Cruelty and climate change on the COP26 menu: Cattle are transported for slaughter across the Bulgarian-Turkish border. (Photo credit: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals Media)

The impact of agriculture on climate change is significant. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agriculture sector is responsible for 10 percent of the total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, after transportation (29 percent), electricity production (25 percent), industry (23 percent), and commercial and residential usage (13 percent). However, according to Peter Lehner, managing attorney for EarthJustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm, the EPA estimate is “almost certainly significantly quite low.”

Lehner argues that most analyses exclude five unique sources of emissions from the farming sector: soil carbon (carbon released during the disturbance of soil), lost sequestration (carbon that would still be sequestered in the ground had that land not been converted into farmland), input footprints (carbon footprint for products used in agriculture, like the manufacturing of fertilizer), difficult measurements (it is harder to measure the carbon emissions of biological systems like agriculture than it is to measure the emissions of other industries that are not biological, like transportation), and potent gases (like methane and nitrous oxide).

Regarding that last source: Focusing on carbon dioxide as the main greenhouse gas often ignores powerful planet-warming gases that are emitted by agriculture and that are even more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane, which is emitted by the burps and farts of ruminants like cows and sheep, has up to 86 times more global warming potential over a 20-year period than carbon dioxide (and also impacts public health, particularly in frontline communities). Nitrous oxide, a byproduct of fertilizer runoff, has 300 times more warming potential than carbon dioxide (and also harms plants and animals).

Topics include:

  • Meat Is Murder—for Animals and the Environment
  • A More Sustainable Future Is Plant-Powered
  • Climate, Conflict and COVID-19: A Perfect Storm
  • COP26’s Missed Opportunity



Please read the ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE (PDF).

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