Photo: Danish Agriculture & Food Council

WRI report highlights the importance of agriculture

The new report from the WRI (World Resources Institute) published in May 2021, follows up on a previous report and focuses on how we can effectively achieve climate goals in agriculture.

The new WRI report, which is entitled "A Pathway to Carbon Neutral Agriculture in Denmark”, highlights the importance of agriculture and its development potential in ensuring a sharp reduction in CO2 emissions. It systematically examines possible solutions and dispels myths based on empirical data sets. Such a report is essential in terms of identifying future global solutions. Not only does it set out the situation as it stands today, it puts forward specific solutions as to how we can bring about change and where change is required to achieve the desired goals. The report highlights five particularly challenging issues:

1) Countries cannot reduce agricultural emissions by producing less food as this would just shift emissions to other countries. On the other hand, the world needs to produce more (or less) on the same land as is available today. This is based on the fact that demand is expected to increase by 45% between 2017 and 2050. This is also despite the fact that western countries and other major meat-eating countries have significantly reduced their consumption.

2) Countries with a high consumption of dairy products and meat need to reduce their consumption while expanding their production more efficiently. According to the report, the answer is for western countries to take the lead in continuing to develop and research production so that dairy products and pig production emit less and the feed ratio is at an optimal level.

3) The agricultural sector has to upscale research. According to the report, agriculture is currently in the same position as the energy sector was 25 years ago. It had promising technologies and solutions, but investment was needed for further development. There are already a number of solutions that could be implemented quickly. Research has shown, for example, that Denmark can reduce almost half of the country’s methane emissions annually by simply removing slurry out of housing units on a daily basis.

4) Several promising opportunities are in the offing for optimising production out in the fields, but more development is required. WRI’s goal to produce 45 per cent more crops while also converting agricultural land to forest and peat soil will be a challenge.

5) All of the above four points must interact across sectors and research. Although there is a consensus to reduce CO2 emissions, more food must be produced than is the case today to meet the growing global population. These two objectives may seem contradictory, but the answer lies in research and agricultural development.

Niels Peter Nørring, Climate Director, the Danish Agriculture & Food Council comments:
”We will be faced with a number of major challenges over the coming years – not least the climate challenge and the increasing global population who will need food on the table. We strongly agree with WRI’s clear recommendation that the solution to these two challenges is to make production in the field and in livestock housing units more efficient and that agriculture in countries such as Denmark – which are at the forefront of climate efficient production – must continue the battle to produce more with less and show the way to producing climate-neutral food products.”

DOWNLOAD: WRI-Report

Niels Peter Nørring, Climate Director - Climate & EU
Danish Agriculture & Food Council