The impact of food on climate

Context- The article talks about how agriculture affects climate change, comparing big industrial farming with small subsistence farming. It focuses on the problems caused by methane
emissions from livestock and rice farming. It also notes that global policies avoid these problems because of strong meat and farming industries.

How does agriculture and the food we eat contribute to changes in the world’s climate?
• Agriculture and food consumption significantly affect the world’s climate:
• Emissions from Food Production: In 2018, the food we produced was responsible for 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
• Livestock’s Role: About 40% of these emissions come from livestock digestion. For example, the digestion process in cattle releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
• Waste and Manure: Livestock manure, either applied to fields or discarded, adds 26% to the emissions, mainly in the form of nitrous oxide.
• Use of Fertilisers: Synthetic fertilisers contribute an additional 13% to the emissions.
• Rice Cultivation: Growing rice, especially in waterlogged fields, results in methane emissions, accounting for 10% of agricultural emissions.
• India’s Livestock: With the largest livestock population, India’s methane emissions from livestock digestion constitute 8% of its total greenhouse gases.Why are farmers the first victims of climate change?
• Farmers are the first victims of climate change due to:
• Cost and Infrastructure: The increasing cost of agricultural inputs, combined with the lack of public infrastructure like irrigation, adversely affects their livelihood.
• Food Import: With rising food costs, governments often import from intensive farming systems, pushing local farmers out of competition.
• Extreme Weather Events: Farmers are directly impacted by events like floods, droughts, pest attacks, and unseasonal cold and heat, leading to lost crops and income.
• Double Impact: While dealing with the challenges of changing climate, they also grapple with the pressure from industrial-agricultural models.

How does industrial farming differ from subsistence farming?
• Scale and Setup: Industrial farming is large-scale with factory farms, while subsistence farming involves smaller landholdings.
• Purpose: Industrial farms produce for a broader market, whereas subsistence farming mainly serves personal or local consumption.
• Chemical Usage: Industrial operations use vast quantities of chemical inputs, whereas subsistence farming often uses fewer or organic inputs.
• Ownership: Industrial-agriculture can be corporate-driven, contrasting with the individual ownership in subsistence farming.
• Livestock Handling: In industrial farming, livestock is often kept in large, concentrated numbers for mass production. In contrast, subsistence farmers typically have fewer
livestock, crucial for their personal sustenance and local economy.

How is the international community reacting to emissions from the agriculture sector?
• UN’s Stance: The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) hasn’t strongly addressed food production’s impact on climate.
• Netherlands’ Initiative: When the Netherlands tried to reduce nitrous oxide emissions, requiring major changes in farming, it faced massive protests, even leading to
governmental changes.
• New Zealand’s Proposal: The country considered a “burp” tax based on cattle numbers and feed, but faced resistance. As a result, the proposal was deferred.
• Agriculture vs. Meat: Globally, confronting the meat industry’s impact on emissions remains challenging, with its influence comparable to the fossil fuel sector.