The agri-food sector (incl. primary production) currently accounts for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) emissions worldwide. In recent years, European and international researchers have achieved considerable progress in developing technical tools and methods to measure and mitigate GHGs. They have examined solutions to increase carbon sequestration in European soils, adapt the diets of ruminants, find inhibitors of methane bacteria, improve the measurement of nitrous oxide and methane, and develop computer models to assess the impact of climate variability on European and international farming systems. Yet developing technical solutions is not enough. Such tools must now find their way to farmers, policymakers and industry players, according to the scientists and stakeholders who participated in the International Conference.
New research could be targeted at: (i) helping farmers reorganise their business and develop a market for more climate-friendly products; (ii) helping policymakers develop new regulations and governmental support to accompany such a transition across the entire agri-food value chain, facilitate the uptake and scaling of new technologies and incentivize a shift in consumption patterns; and (iii) helping better understand the trade-offs and possible synergetic actions that could be undertaken across different policy areas (agriculture, health, environment, economic development). Future research on GHG mitigation should therefore not just focus on changes in agricultural and food production, but also on changes in society.
Looking ahead, European and international research groups should intensify their interactions with stakeholders (e.g., via co-design of research programmes), in order to maximize the relevance and impact of their work for policymakers, farmers and industry, and help develop practical, context-specific solutions with all concerned actors. In addition, future scientific endeavours should rely on more holistic and interdisciplinary approaches, which combine natural with social sciences (e.g., economics, sociology), in order to consider a mix of demand- and supply-side approaches that can help mitigate GHGs from the farm to the fork. These were some of the main conclusions of the International Conference on Agricultural GHG Emissions and Food Security, which was held in Berlin on 10-13 September 2018.
FACCE-JPI and the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA), organised the conference together with the CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). The German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture hosted the Conference.
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