US – USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack revealed that the final COP28 declaration would not focus on agriculture and food despite calls from countries to focus on food and agriculture as a way to meet the world’s climate goals.

The decision, influenced by the G77 group of developing nations seeking further review and involvement, halted negotiations on this critical front.

Vilsack acknowledged the significance of a dedicated day for agriculture and food policy, applauding U.S. farm and food leaders’ participation.

However, the absence of focus on agriculture drew disappointment, attributed to the need for extended deliberation until June 2024 due to the G77’s request.

“Today, on the inaugural day dedicated to food and agriculture at a COP conference, we’re proud to highlight our steps in tackling the climate crisis,” stated Secretary Tom Vilsack.

He stressed the importance of the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Change, signed by 152 nations, along with global commitments to curbing greenhouse gas emissions and funding related projects.

Among the initiatives highlighted was the Agriculture Innovation Mission (AIM) for climate, a joint U.S.-UAE endeavor aimed at addressing climate change and global hunger through increased investment in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation.

While discussions on reducing meat consumption were scarce, Vilsack emphasized strategies to curtail methane emissions linked to livestock.

The U.S. is actively leading in methane reduction through diverse approaches, including research, feed additives, methane recapture for energy, and manure management.

COP28 organizers emphasized the urgent need for a decline in coal, oil, and gas production, alongside a tripling of global renewable energy capacity by 2030. They highlighted the imperative for increased financing in climate resilience and adaptation.

The fresh produce industry, identified as susceptible to climate change, remains a concern.

A report by Our World in Data underscores that food production contributes a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The complex effects of climate change on fresh produce, ranging from potential benefits to certain crops due to changing conditions to threats from extreme weather events, were noted.

To address these challenges, adopting sustainable agricultural practices like crop rotation, soil conservation, and water management becomes pivotal.

Moreover, individual actions, such as opting for locally grown produce, minimizing food waste, and considering plant-based diets, contribute significantly to reducing the carbon footprint associated with food consumption.

As global discussions continue, the urgency to integrate agriculture and food into climate negotiations remains a pressing concern for many striving to align climate goals with sustainable food systems.

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