Agriculture might seem green by definition, but farming accounts for a lot of greenhouse-gas emissions when the entire food production system is taken into account.
Typically, estimates of greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture are around 11%-15% of global emissions. Estimates discussed last month at the United Nations Climate Summit put that number closer to 50%. This is an important calculation as climate change issues come to the fore, with record greenhouse-gas emissions and international negotiations to halt the rise.
The reason for the difference is that the 11%-15% estimates only take into account emissions from the farming part of agriculture, such as plowing and fertilizing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 14% estimate, for example, includes emissions from agriculture’s mechanical equipment, soil management, enteric fermentation (which produces, say, belches from a cow), manure management, rice cultivation and field burning. It doesn’t include transport, food processing, packaging, and sale of agricultural products.
The 43%-57% estimates, which are…
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