One third of all CO2 emissions globally come from agriculture and land use changes such as forest clearing. Fertilizer applications account for most all of the world’s nitrous oxide emissions (298 times more potent than CO2), and agriculture contributes two-thirds of all methane emissions (25 times more potent than CO2). California is the twelfth largest producer of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the world, and agriculture is responsible for six percent of GHG emissions in California, according to the Scoping Plan pursuant to California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32). Solutions to the climate change challenge require a comprehensive and integrated approach that addresses food and farming as a system.
The vision for California’s agricultural future that has long been articulated and modeled by sustainable agriculture provides powerful solutions to the climate crisis. These include practices and policies that minimize nitrogen-based fertilizer use, decrease tillage, increase biodiversity, conserve water, encourage local food production, protect farmland, produce on-farm renewable energy, and build the organic content of soil to sequester more carbon – all of which mitigate climate change.