Agriculture needs to close an 11-gigaton greenhouse gas (GHG) gap between expected emissions in 2050 and those needed to hold global warming below 2oC. Several noteworthy reports have proposed a range of mitigation options. Our World Resources Report: Creating a Sustainable Food Future …. laid out 22 solutions to cut emissions by two-thirds, while still feeding a likely population of 10 billion in 2050.
Yet much of the recent limelight for agricultural emissions reductions shines on one option that our report found had limited potential: increasing carbon sequestration in soils through practices broadly referred to as “regenerative agriculture.”
…. [T]he practices grouped as regenerative agriculture can improve soil health and yield some valuable environmental benefits, but are unlikely to achieve large-scale emissions reductions.
The thinking behind regenerative practices as a climate mitigation strategy is to remove carbon dioxide out of the air by storing it as organic carbon in soils. While practices like adding manure can increase soil carbon, the feasibility of scaling such practices over large areas to substantially increase soil carbon and mitigate climate change is much less clear.