Comment: Agriculture in US Midwest 'critical' to global climate agreement

4 June 2009

Agriculture is key both to securing a global deal and to helping reduce US emissions, writes Midwest Regional Manager Alison Hannon.

In a recent op-ed Robert Carlson, president of the North Dakota Farmers Union, writes: "The time is now to enact an effective and intelligent climate change policy. Agriculture needs to be an integral component of the policy solutions we already have at hand." What's more, he states, agriculture already "is well positioned to play an instrumental role in securing [those] solutions".

Agriculture, which contributes around 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions, has always been important to solving climate change. The sector has a clear role to play in mitigating emissions.

But agriculture is also important because of its political and economic implications in US climate debates.

The political balance of power on national climate and energy issues lies in the Midwest, home to some 37% of US farmland. As Carlson notes, this farmland has a promising and profitable role to play as a solution provider to the rest of the country's efforts to curb {CO2} emissions.

Through carbon sequestration, soil and land-use management, and biomass production, Midwestern farmland could generate potential revenue streams from low-cost forest and land-use offsets.

What's more, such high-quality carbon offsets serve as an agreeable solution for both environmentalists and business, as they help achieve to emission reduction goals while keeping costs manageable.

This is yet another reason why the Midwestern US states are critical to securing a successful global climate agreement.

On June 29-30,{theclimategroup} in partnership with the Great Plains Institute, the Prairie Climate Stewardship Network, the Great Plains Energy Corridor and Bismarck State College will hold the International Climate Stewardship Solutions Conference. This event will increase public understanding in the Northern Plains region about of the opportunities and benefits of addressing climate change. The gathering will focus on international examples of strategies, policies and technologies in other countries that have been effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions AND achieving real benefits to key economic sectors.

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