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Secretary Vilsack Highlights U.S. Agriculture’s Climate Leadership at COP28

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates | The United States’ leadership in climate-smart agriculture and forestry is taking center stage at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) as Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and other U.S. Department of Agriculture officials highlight the U.S. commitment to investing in innovative climate solutions, quantifying and demonstrating results, and sharing resources and solutions with the world.


“COP28 comes at a critical juncture, seven years after the Paris Agreement entered into force and seven years before 2030, when significant targets must be met to keep us within reach of the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” Secretary Vilsack said. “We’re proud to be here in Dubai, highlighting the steps we’re taking to tackle the climate crisis and bring new opportunities to producers and rural communities in America and worldwide. USDA and the Biden-Harris Administration are making unprecedented investments in climate-focused practices and partnerships and, as we share our learnings from American agriculture and forestry on a global scale, the progress we’re making domestically will also have international benefits.”


Secretary Vilsack is participating in COP28 from December 8-10. December 10 marks the first-ever day at a United Nations Climate Change Conference dedicated to food and agriculture. USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young is also in attendance and joins the Secretary in amplifying the important role of science in driving climate-smart agricultural innovation globally.


Investing in Climate Solutions

Secretary Vilsack highlighted the fact that President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, the single-largest investment in climate and clean energy solutions in American history, provides billions of dollars to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, encourage new economic activity in rural areas, and protect the communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. USDA investments include:


  • Nearly $20 billion to help producers implement practices and projects that reduce emissions, enhance soil carbon sequestration and provide other climate benefits;


  • More than $13 billion to provide rural America with clean, affordable energy and increase the availability of domestic biofuels; and


  • $5 billion to maximize the power of public and private forests in the fight against climate change.


Through the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, USDA has invested more than $3 billion in pilot projects that provide verifiable on-farm emissions reduction and carbon sequestration benefits, while also creating new market opportunities for producers who use climate-smart practices.


The Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate), launched at COP26 and co-led by the United States and the United Arab Emirates, announced that increased investment in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation by its partners has more than doubled – from $8 billion announced at COP27 to more than $17 billion at COP28. This includes $1.5 billion in previously announced funding from the United States, of which $1 billion is from USDA. Now with more than 600 partners, including 55 countries, AIM for Climate is a flagship initiative of the COP28 Presidency and has been endorsed by the past three COP Presidencies.


Through the Food System Transformation initiative, USDA has invested more than $5 billion to build more resilient domestic food systems that provide new and better market opportunities for producers while reducing carbon pollution.


Additional investments have also been made to enhance the resilience of forests and grasslands through the Innovative Finance for National Forests grant program, funded and administered by the USDA Forest Service and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities.


Additionally, on December 2 as part of COP28, USDA joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Food and Drug Administration in publishing the Draft National Strategy to Reduce U.S. Food Loss and Waste, which outlines targeted actions to mitigate the environmental repercussions of wasted food, including its impact on climate, and to increase recycling of organics, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save households and businesses money, and build cleaner communities.


Quantifying and Demonstrating Results

Secretary Vilsack emphasized USDA’s commitment to ensuring the delivery of accurate information on the benefits of actions being taken to address climate change. President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act dedicates $300 million to enable USDA to quantify and track carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions and to gather field-based data on the effectiveness of climate-smart agricultural practices in mitigating these emissions.


Measurement, monitoring, reporting and verification (MMRV) are key components of USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, and USDA is also expanding its focus on MMRV activities in the forestry sector, on lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, and on working agricultural lands nationwide.


Secretary Vilsack and other USDA officials also highlighted USDA’s innovative, on-farm tools that measure the effectiveness of conservation practices, noting that those tools are now being used to help land managers quantify their greenhouse gas footprints and estimate the benefits of actions to reduce emissions.


Advancing Global Collaboration

Secretary Vilsack also underscored USDA’s commitment to sharing climate-focused innovations and expertise among partners worldwide.


During COP28, USDA highlighted two cutting-edge tools now available through the International Climate Hub that will help translate climate science into action around the world: COMET-Planner Global, which allows users anywhere in the world to identify their climatic region and soil types in order to maximize the effectiveness of their crop management and conservation practices; and the Global Agricultural and Disaster Assessment System, a geographic information system that uses remote sensing and Earth observation data to assess conditions on agricultural lands.


In addition, Vilsack described how USDA has made climate-smart agriculture a focus of its international development and capacity-building programs. In 2023, USDA’s Food for Progress Program provided more than $227 million for climate-focused projects in seven African and South Asian countries, and USDA’s international fellowship and exchange programs targeted nearly $3 million toward climate-related training for scientists, policymakers and business leaders from 18 countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean.


USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.


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