Canada is a major producer and exporter of agricultural products. Farmers are already feeling the direct impacts of climate change, but dispersed operations and difficult-to-track emissions make this sector one of the most challenging to decarbonize.

of Canada’s emissions

Priorities for Action

  1. Reform support programs to encourage improved agroecological practices
  2. Align market actors (finance, processors, input manufacturers) to incentivize more sustainable value chains
  3. Research, trials and promotion of alternative crop regimes and technologies to reduce nitrogen fertilizer inputs
  4. Improve management of manure and ruminant diets
  5. Research animal genomics, diet, inhibitors, to reduce enteric emissions
  6. Encourage alternative proteins

The Opportunity

Accounting for 11% of national GDP, agriculture and agri-food is a major contributor to the Canadian economy. Four-fifths of emissions stem from agricultural practices (particularly manure and enteric emissions from live-stock production, and nitrogen fertilizers), with the remaining fifth related to on-farm energy use (fossil fuels combustion).

Three elements are critical to move agri-food systems towards net zero: Displacing fossil fuel end-use on the farm (and throughout the food industry), reforming cultivation practices to reduce nitrogen inputs and improve soil health, and tackling emissions from animal agriculture.

Today’s Challenges

Complexity of addressing emissions from a geographically dispersed and heterogeneous sector; heavy reliance on high input agriculture; market, regulatory frameworks, and government programs do not incentivize sustainable agriculture and land use

Future Challenges

Impacts of climate change on agricultural production; soil and land-use based opportunities for large scale carbon sequestration; agricultural production regimes that are more attuned to agroecological principles

Indicators of progress

Fossil fuels as proportion of on-farm energy use; reductions in nitrogen fertilizer application and reduced eutrophication; increases in soil organic matter and soil organic carbon; lifecycle GHG emissions per unit of protein

Our Net Zero Decision Support Tool envisions a transformational level of change across eight key pathways: