Harvesting Renewables: How COP28’s Agricultural Declaration Could Reshape Farming

After nearly three decades, a significant development at the COP28 summit in Dubai was the recognition of the agricultural sector’s crucial role in climate change. The COP28 UAE Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action was signed by 130 nations, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization rolled out a food systems roadmap to end global hunger while staying within the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold. In addition, signatories to the final declaration agreed to triple global renewable energy capacity to at least 11,000 GW by 2030. However, behind this positive policy direction, significant efforts are needed to decarbonize global food systems and assist smallholder farmers in incorporating Distributed Renewable Energy solutions (DREs) into their agricultural practices.

The report indicates that replacing just five fossil-fuel-powered processes in African agriculture with Distributed Renewable Energy solutions (DREs) – specifically solar water pumps, solar cold storage, solar lamps, electric mills, and electric vehicles – could result in a continent-wide 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and generate economic benefits of up to $24.5 billion annually.

Overall, the discussions and commitments at COP28 regarding sustainable agriculture and food systems are likely to catalyze long-overdue advancements in the clean energy transition within the agriculture sector in 2024 and beyond.