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EXCLUSIVE Global investors write to the UN demanding a global plan on agricultural emissions

  • $14 trillion investor group calls for action
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is best placed to lead
  • Agriculture responsible for a third of global emissions

LONDON, June 9 (Reuters) – Investors managing $14 trillion have urged the United Nations to create a global plan to make the agricultural sector sustainable and reduce one of the biggest sources of climate-damaging emissions, a letter seen by Reuters showed.

Food production accounts for around a third of global greenhouse gas emissions and is the main threat to 86% of the world’s endangered species, the group said, while livestock farming is responsible for three quarters of the loss of the Amazon rainforest.

Climate scientists warned in April that the global goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7F) above the pre-industrial average by mid-century could not be achieved without changes marked in land use. Read more

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Despite this, a FAIRR initiative A study last year showed that the emissions reduction plans of most G20 countries had no targets for reducing agricultural emissions.

Writing to Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General Qu Dongyu, the letter, coordinated by investor network FAIRR, said the agency was best placed to take the lead. to create a roadmap to ensure better planning.

“To keep the 1.5°C target within reach, the global food system urgently needs a baseline roadmap that reduces emissions while protecting people’s health and livelihoods. around the world,” said Guenther Thallinger, chairman of Net-Zero summoned by the UN. Asset Owner Alliance (NZAOA), one of the signatories to the letter.

“We urge the FAO to act on the basis of science and work towards realizing this historic roadmap.”

In addition to NZAOA, whose members include insurers Allianz (ALVG.DE) and Swiss Re (SRENH.S), 33 other investors have signed up, including US asset manager Capital Group and Britain’s Aviva Investors (AV.L ).

The call to action was also backed by Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and one of the architects of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.


The launch of a similar report for the energy sector last year by the International Energy Agency showed just how fruitful such a roadmap could be, investors said, and would prove a crucial tool to help investors and other stakeholders change their practices more quickly.

Although investors considered FAO to be the best placed UN agency to lead such work, Olivier De Schutter, co-chair of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems, said it had historically delivered a “mixed message about the impacts of agriculture…on climate change”.

Despite typically promoting approaches that rely on heavy machinery, large-scale irrigation, chemical fertilizers and pesticides to feed the world, all of which dramatically increase greenhouse gas emissions, he had also pushed for low-input solutions that reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

“FAO has been far from consistent in this regard and there remains a huge gap between its commitment to supporting agroecology and the reality of the advice and project support it gives to countries,” he said. declared. “My hope is that the initiative of these investors can force FAO to rethink its policies.

The FAO did not respond to a request for comment.

In addition to setting clear guidance for businesses and other stakeholders on the volume of emissions that must be mitigated to limit warming to 1.5°C, the letter drew particular attention to the need for a to reduce methane emissions.

Livestock accounts for nearly a third of global human-related methane emissions, released in the form of livestock burps, manure and forage crops.

Methane stays in the atmosphere for two decades compared to the centuries it takes to remove carbon dioxide, but a single methane molecule traps much more heat.

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Reporting by Simon Jessop and Gloria Dickie in London; edited by Barbara Lewis

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