For decades, mainstream climate debates, both nationally and internationally, largely ignored agriculture. Now, thankfully, the climate community has woken up to the importance of agriculture and food systems in tackling climate change. At the same time, this new awareness makes it imperative that climate experts who are new to the complexity of food and agriculture systems learn how those systems work and about the drivers that are stimulating food systems change.
Worryingly, some of the ideas for climate action linked to food and agriculture that enjoy the most political and financial support from governments and agribusiness, food and financial firms lack a sound scientific basis and/or ignore underlying economic and social conditions. Too often, the proposals that have the support of private investors and global agribusiness firms fail to get to the root cause of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions. Worse, they can have unintended negative ecological or social consequences. As a result, the initiatives fail. We can and must do better, collectively. At stake is both our climate and the land, soil, water and biodiversity we need for future food security. Our solutions must protect human and environmental systems holistically.