What COP28 Means for Climate Action in a US Food and Farm Bill

The international climate talks that wrapped up in Dubai, United Arab Emirates this week—formally known as the 28th Conference of the Parties, or COP28—had been billed as something of a watershed for their focus on food and farming. But what really happened at COP28 regarding agriculture? And what does it mean back here at home for the five-year food and farm bill that the US Congress is negotiating right now? Food and farming was on the menu at COP28 The surprising final agreement that emerged from all-night overtime negotiations is extraordinary for its long-overdue focus on transitioning away from fossil fuels. To see that through will require changes in every sector of the global economy, including agriculture, where fossil fuels power farm equipment and the global transport of farm commodities and food. But otherwise, the final COP28 agreement didn’t include any binding commitments on food or farming. Still, throughout the two-week meeting, those topics took a higher profile than usual. The organizers touted so-called 1.5°C-aligned menus served at COP28—centered around plant-based foods, and referencing the Paris Agreement commitment to limit warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels—as evidence of a new commitment to climate-friendly food and farming. Funders pledged $7 billion in new money to help agriculture curb its emissions and cope with the effects of climate change. And December 10 was designated Food, Agriculture and Water Day to showcase commitments in this sector. The COP28 Food Systems Lead, H.E Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri of the host country UAE, put a fine point on it: “To achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, to keep 1.5C within reach, we must address the connection between global food systems, agriculture, and the climate. At COP28, we have built the foundations for action, which commit 152 countries to transform their food systems, […]

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By Donato