COP28: US-UAE climate-friendly farming effort grows to $17bn

Tomato seedlings grow in a closed artificial light seedling production system. File: Bloomberg

Tomato seedlings grow in a closed artificial light seedling production system. File: Bloomberg

Published Dec 11, 2023


Funding for a joint effort by the United States and the United Arab Emirates to advance climate-friendly farming around the world has grown to more than $17 billion (about R322bn), the countries announced on Friday at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai.

The Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) was launched in 2021, at COP26 in Glasgow, and its funding comes from governments, companies and non-governmental organisations.

Globally, food and farming contribute about a third of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization.

Nearly 80 projects have been announced under the AIM for Climate initiative since 2021, with goals to expand agricultural research, implement sustainable farming practices and reduce methane emissions.

"This partnership embodies our shared commitment to accelerating investments in transformative food systems and climate-smart agricultural innovations," said US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement.

Funding for the effort has grown from $13bn in May, when the US and UAE co-hosted an AIM for Climate summit in Washington, and from $8bn at COP27.

The new total included $12bn from governments and $5bn from non-government parties such as companies and humanitarian organisations, said an AIM for Climate spokesperson.

The 27 new projects announced at COP28 range in size from $500 million to $150 000.

Partners in one of the largest initiatives, aimed at expanding regenerative agriculture, include Bunge, Google, The Nature Conservancy and the Brazilian state of Para. Regenerative agriculture generally refers to practices such as reduced tillage of cropland and lower pesticide use.

For the first time, agriculture is a major focus at this year's climate summit, with a full day on Sunday (December 10) dedicated to food and farming topics.

"We are witnessing tremendous progress in transforming the global food and agricultural systems at COP28," said UAE Minister for Climate and the Environment Mariam Almheiri in a statement.

Advocacy groups want the nations and companies in attendance to pledge to tackle agricultural methane emissions in particular, most of which is from livestock production.