Agriculture's climate change role demands urgent action

    MONTREAL and VANCOUVER, Jan. 8 /CNW Telbec/ - Agriculture is one of the
largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions and urgent changes need to be made
if its role is to be changed from a carbon source to a carbon sink, according
to a new report published by Greenpeace today.
    Cool Farming: Climate impacts of agriculture and mitigation potential, is
the first report to detail both the direct and indirect effects farming has on
climate change. Cool Farming is written for Greenpeace by Professor Pete Smith
from University of Aberdeen, a lead author on the latest International Panel
on Climate Change report.
    "The impact of industrial farming on climate change has reached a
critical threshold," said Josh Brandon, Greenpeace Agriculture Campaigner. "We
can only go on so long sucking the life out the soil and releasing waste into
the air, oceans and rivers before we permanently degrade the capacity of these
ecosystems to sustain us."
    The report describes how energy- and chemical-intensive farming has led
to increased levels of greenhouse gas emissions, primarily as a result of the
overuse of fertilisers, land clearance, soil degradation, and intensive animal
farming. The total global contribution of agriculture to climate change,
including deforestation for farmland and other land use changes, is estimated
to be equivalent to between 8.5 -16.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide or
between 17- 32% of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.
    Fertilizer overuse is responsible for the highest single share of
agriculture's greenhouse gas emissions, currently equal to some 2.1 billion
tonnes of CO(2) annually. Excess fertilizer results in the emission of nitrous
oxide (N(2)O), which is some 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide in
changing the climate.
    The report details a variety of practical solutions which can reduce
climate change and that are easy to implement, including reducing overuse of
fertilisers, protecting the soil, improving rice production and cutting demand
for meat, especially in developed countries.
    "Every year, agriculture is responsible ten per cent of Canada's
greenhouse gas emissions" said Josh Brandon. "If Prime Minister Stephen Harper
is sincere in combating climate change, an essential first step is a tax on
fertilizers. This must be followed by tougher regulations on pesticides and a
lot more money to promote local and organic agriculture in Canada."
    Pete Smith is the Coordinating Lead Author of Chapter 8 (Agriculture) of
the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Working Group III, online at

For further information:

For further information: Josh Brandon, Agriculture campaigner,
Greenpeace, (604) 721 7493; Jane Story, Greenpeace Communications, (416)

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