September 2018


EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the latest edition of NACSAA News, a monthly compilation of CSA-related news. NACSAA in Action features the latest on the Alliance activities; “Featured News” offers some of the biggest CSA-related stories of the past month; “Other News We Are Reading” is a listing of news stories from other sources we think you will find of interest; and “Partner News and Events.” We hope this newsletter will serve to keep you, your members and other constituencies fully engaged in the growing development of climate-smart agriculture policy, programs and practices. Your feedback is welcome and appreciated. To subscribe, email

NACSAA in Action


NACSAA Members to Bring CSA Messages to Global Action Summit


NACSAA leaders will be in California next week for the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS). While the summit will focus on actions that can be taken to address climate threats, NACSAA members will be highlighting the need to support climate smart agricultural systems and practices that can sustainably intensify production, improve resiliency and deliver high value mitigation services – the three pillars of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA).


NACSAA Steering Committee member and Solutions from the Land Co-chair A.G. Kawamura, an Orange County, CA, fruit and vegetable grower and shipper, will join fellow NACSAA members John Piotti, president and CEO of the American Farmland Trust; Wayne Honeycutt, president and CEO of the Soil Health Institute; and Nick Goeser, vice president of production and sustainability with the National Corn Growers Association, in sharing their thoughts on how to boost CSA. The NACSAA leaders will be making remarks at a California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA)-sponsored CSA pre-summit event in Sonoma County. (Kawamura is a former Secretary at CDFA.)


Scaling Up Climate Smart Agriculture is an invitation-only event drawing together state and local government leaders, businesses and citizens from around the world, who will share innovative and transformative achievements to date and commit to doing more.


The event will connect farmers and ranchers; multinational corporations; foreign governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other climate stakeholders to further the role that food and agriculture has in climate discussions.


The event will combine panel discussions and tours related to soil health and climate smart agricultural practices and the role of sustainable procurement, technical assistance, policy and farmers to rapidly scale up practices.


Central to the conversations over the two-day forum will be the role that soil carbon sequestration plays as a fundamental climate strategy. California, along with other states, countries, companies, organizations and foundations have established soil carbon sequestration policies that aim to advance and scale-up sustainable procurement and technical assistance.


The overarching goal of the affiliated event is to convene key players that can announce major commitments to draw down carbon through soil carbon sequestration and share information on the importance of climate smart agriculture to a variety of agricultural sectors.


The program for this two-day event will include the unveiling of a Global Soil Health Challenge that SfL and the UN Foundation teamed up to construct and advance.


In building support for the Soil Health Challenge, leaders had the opportunity to share views on the relationship between climate smart agriculture and “agroecology,” the latter a term not well understood. Some contributors were advocating for language that was felt could be misinterpreted as a narrow approach to improving soil health.


Having witnessed the competition in branding preferred farming systems at the global, regional and national level, it was advocated that favoring one approach over another must be avoided, lest we divide a community of interest that should remain united around a shared goal for improving soil health


Balanced language was found that should appeal to farmers and environmental advocates alike.


Also related to the global summit, Fred Yoder, who chairs the North America Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance, is a featured speaker at the Forests, Food and Land Day event Sept. 12.


The day will bring together farmers and ranchers, foresters, chefs, Indigenous Peoples, business leaders, elected officials, investors, artists, citizens and more who are working to fight climate change. The event will showcase progress and ambition toward meeting the 30×30 Forests, Food and Land Challenge and the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.


Organizers of the event say that how land is used for agriculture, forestry and other purposes has a greater impact on climate change than any other sector of the economy except energy.  Yet, land-related solutions receive less than 3 percent of climate funding. Working across all sectors of the economy to improve forest and habitat conservation, food production and consumption, as well as land use can deliver up to 30 percent of the climate solutions needed by 2030.


Tickets for Forests, Food and Land Day are available HERE.


For more on the global summit, see our story below in the “Partner News and Events” section. Also, our representatives will be sending out updates and messages from the summit.


In addition to working to shape how agriculture is addressed at the GCAS, NACSAA leadership has been active on other fronts as well. In July, a team of alliance leaders spent a day at USDA reinforcing the importance of climate smart agriculture support with USDA political appointees and agency representatives. The messages were well received and the individuals at USDA embraced the three-pillar CSA framework.


NACSAA leadership has also been working closely with our business partners at Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), providing input into the development of “CSA 100,” an initiative that may be announced as soon as next week. Through the initiative, an effort will be made to significantly increase business participation and support for CSA


Also, in preparation for the upcoming COP in Poland and the continued development of the Koronivia Agriculture Work Program, SfL has submitted a formal request to the UNFCCC to be designated as an official observer organization. The approval process is lengthy, but it was felt to be an important way for NACSAA to have direct input into the climate convention process.


On another front, in the event you missed it, in the SfL blog post last week – USFS Offers New Landscape-Based Strategy for Improving Forest Conditions – the U.S. Forest Service was commended for launching a new strategy for managing catastrophic wildfires and the impacts of invasive species, drought, and insect and disease epidemics.


It is a landscape-management approach with the kind of wide breadth advocated by Solutions from the Land, and is a welcome addition to the government’s arsenal to be used in the battle against a changing climate and its consequences.


Elsewhere, the Ohio Smart Agriculture: Solutions from the Land (OSA:SfL) Steering Committee met last week to process the feedback and input members received through the community of interest listening sessions they held over the past month. Through the sessions, leaders entered a new phase of the project where they are engaging in a direct dialogue with partners who they hope will join in supporting actions and initiatives to achieve the OSA:SfL vision:


Facing the specter of a rapidly changing and more unpredictable global environment, Ohio agriculture will adjust to these conditions and maintain a style of farming and a food system that benefits producers, consumers, the public, and the planet. Our vision is to boost profitability for farmers at all scales and in all settings (from rural to urban) while restoring environmental resilience, building strong communities, engaging consumers and ensuring public health and access to nutritious food.


Based on the input members received, the Steering Committee will be making adjustments to their preliminary solution pathways. The target date for v2.0 is late September.


In support of their outreach and engagement work, OSA:SfL has produced a short video describing the project and inviting others to join. To view the video, click HERE.


NACSAA’s Yoder Featured in Story on Farmers, Changing Climate


Fred Yoder, chairman of the NACSAA steering committee, is a featured subject of a story in The Columbus Dispatch on today’s farmers and their efforts to deal with rapid changes to the climate and the unstable weather patterns those changes generate.


Headlined “Climate change taboo topic for many farmers, but not weather patterns,” the Aug. 27 story share’s Yoder’s experience as a fourth-generation Ohio farmer.


“Since the late 1990s, farmers in Ohio have had to adapt to climate change,” reads the article by Beth Burger, environment reporter with the Ohio newspaper. “It’s now warmer and there’s more precipitation compared with years past, researchers confirm, affecting everything from how they control pests to the amount of time farmers have to plant.”


Yoder, 63, who farms in Ohio’s Union and Madison counties, recalls for Burger his first experience with a “100-year” flood in 1959, when he was four years old, and his father had to evacuate the family. But it took far less than a century for catastrophic rains and flooding to hit Central Ohio again, striking in 1997 when the then-42-year-old corn farmer had to evacuate his own family.


Quoting Aaron Wilson, senior research associate for the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at Ohio State University, Burger reports that with “greenhouse gases forming from carbon emissions, the temperatures will continue to increase. As temperatures go up, the water vapor increases. That leads to more rainfall.”


Furthermore, she writes, “People think of the effects of climate change and sometimes picture a polar bear on a shrinking ice cap, but images of change can be found throughout Ohio.”


For farmers, Burger reports from her conversation with Wilson, “that means increased pressure from weeds and more pests to combat as the growing zone shifts and temperatures increase. Many crops are growing at an accelerated pace. Rainfall has become more sporadic, with some locations receiving several inches in a matter of hours – known as rain events – while several miles away there might not be a drop.”


She writes that in some parts of the state where there have been rain events, farmers have had to replant corn up to three times this growing season. Crop insurance companies have not documented a noticeable trend, according to records.


Yoder, who also serves on President Trump’s agriculture advisory committee, told Burger, “Farmers will really push back when you start talking about climate change, but then you ask them, ‘Do you think the weather patterns have changed?’ ‘Oh, my goodness, yes.’…So, it’s just a matter of how you couch it. It’s a shame that we’ve politicized climate change. I mean, that’s ridiculous. Science is science…Let’s adapt.”


Yoder told Burger a reliance on fossil fuels has changed the climate, which has led to a change in farming. As a young man, he remembers planting crops along with his father from the first of May to the end of June. Now, the planting window is shortened to 10 days.


As Yoder did with his father in 1988 when he took over the farm, Fred will pass the operations on to his son, Josh, 32. Yoder said the key piece of advice he received from his father was: “Just please leave it in better shape than what you got it.”


“I believe that’s really what a farmer needs to do,” Yoder tells Burger, going on to say that with the erratic weather patterns, that means farmers have to continue to adapt: widen drainage ditches, use cover crops and not till to nurture the soil in order to withstand both flooding and drought conditions.


Burger’ story notes that “some farmers have been reluctant to switch to more sustainable techniques.”


“You’ve got to look at that as your 401(k),” Burger quotes Yoder as saying. “That’s the same way you’ve got to look at soil. You’ve got to do things today that are going to benefit you 15, 20 years down the road.”


4R Climate-Smart Protocol Reduces GHG Emissions by up to 35 percent


New research concludes that Canadian growers can reduce their on-farm greenhouse gas emissions by up to 35 percent by implementing 4R Nutrient Stewardship best practices


A literature review, conducted by David Burton, a nitrous oxide researcher at the Department of Plant, Food, and Environmental Sciences at Dalhousie University, found it is possible to reduce emissions by 10 per cent over original estimates from previous studies.


“Since 2008, the Canadian fertilizer industry has used a conservative estimate of 25 per cent potential nitrous oxide emissions reductions using the 4R Climate-Smart Protocol,” said Clyde Graham, executive vice president, Fertilizer Canada. “Following this review, we’re finding that the effectiveness of the 4Rs is greater than initially estimated.”


Fertilizer Canada, which represents manufacturers, wholesale and retail distributors of nitrogen, phosphate, potash and sulphur fertilizers, is a member organization of NACSAA.


The 4R Climate-Smart Protocol, also known as the Nitrous Oxide Emission Reduction Protocol, is an easily adaptable, science-based solution to agricultural impacts which incorporates 4R Nutrient Stewardship (Right Source @ Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place®) for Canada’s growers under the guidance of an accredited professional.


A national strategy incorporating the 4R protocol would significantly reduce on-farm nitrous oxide emissions per unit of crop produced while still allowing growers to benefit from the input that is the main driver of crop yields in modern high- production systems.


“While nitrous oxide emission reduction is based on climate and soil, the flexibility of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework allows growers from any region to maximize the results of their nutrient management practices, thus achieving a reduction rate of up to 35 per cent,” said Burton. “The agriculture sector contributes 36 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions; research has confirmed that the implementation of the 4R Climate-Smart Protocol can significantly reduce that.”


Fertilizer Canada has just completed three years of extensive research engaging nine scientists across the country, five of whom worked to quantify the economic, social and environmental benefits resulting from advanced nitrogen fertilizer management practices under 4R Nutrient Stewardship.


“While these results enable growers from regions across the country to confidently implement 4R practices, there is still work to be done to fully understand the benefits of the 4Rs,” said Karen Haugen-Kozyra, professional agronomist and president of the environmental consulting firm, Viresco Solutions.


To further the research, members of the Canadian fertilizer industry have recommitted funding for five more years to demonstrate the effectiveness of 4R Nutrient Stewardship management for reducing the environmental impacts of agriculture.


Such commitment to research will support and enable implementation of the 4R Climate-Smart Protocol launched by Fertilizer Canada to support the country’s reduction of nitrous oxide emissions from on-farm nitrogen use, leaders of the group say.


Read the report, “A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature Documenting the Impact of 4R Management on N2O Emissions Relevant to a Canadian Context,” to learn how nitrogen fertilizer management presents an opportunity to reduce the emissions of N2O from agro-ecosystems in Canada.


Meanwhile, the nationwide research has resulted in the publication by Fertilizer Canada of “Key Findings of the Canadian 4R Research Network,” which highlights 10 scientifically-proven 4R Nutrient Stewardship Best Management Practices (BMPs) across a range of cropping systems from Atlantic Canada through to the Prairies, amply demonstrating the universality of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship approach.


The three-year research effort by the Canadian 4R Research Network aimed at quantifying the economic, social and environmental benefits resulting from advanced fertilizer management systems under 4R Nutrient Stewardship.


The results enable growers from regions across the country to confidently implement practices that will increase the profitability of their farms while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions, leaching of nutrients through the soil and impacts on surrounding water resources.


“This research initiative strengthens the science behind the 4R principles providing Canadian growers with the information they need to enhance competitiveness, increase productivity and adapt to market needs, while addressing the sustainable intensification of agriculture,” Graham said.


In Atlantic Canada, for example, research has shown significant benefits in applying the Right Rate of nitrogen fertilizer at the Right Time. Research demonstrated that splitting nitrogen fertilizer (Right Source) by applying 60 per cent at planting and 40 per cent as in-season foliar urea (Right Rate and Right Time) resulted in the same crop yield compared to a full application at planting, but reduces greenhouse gas emissions – thereby increasing environmental sustainability without compromising economic efficiency.


Research has also demonstrated that implementing 4R practices in Atlantic Canada can reduce nitrate leaching into the soil by as much as 32 per cent.


“Understanding which soils pose a risk of nutrient loss in the region can assist agricultural producers in managing nutrients more efficiently and in protecting the environment,” Burton said. “Adjustments in the crop nutrient source and application rate, timing, and placement method have been shown to greatly reduce the risk of nutrient losses.”


Research further demonstrated the importance of assessing inherent soil nitrogen to determine the Right Rate of nitrogen fertilizer application. Results show improved nitrogen use efficiency and reduced environmental impact.


“This is where the value of Fertilizer Canada’s 4R Climate-Smart Protocol could play a role,” Graham said “These results further support our national strategy to reduce on-farm emissions of greenhouse gas under the Protocol, which creates real reductions and produces a carbon credit, rewarding farmers for their environmental stewardship and incentivizing further use of these best management practices.”



Featured News


USFS Announces New Strategy for Improving Forest Conditions


USDA’s Forest Service (USFS) has launched a new strategy for managing catastrophic wildfires and the impacts of invasive species, drought, and insect and disease epidemics.


Toward Shared Stewardship across Landscapes: An Outcome-based investment Strategy  is a new report that outlines the Forest Service’s plans to work more closely with states to identify landscape-scale priorities for targeted treatments in areas with the highest payoffs.


“On my trip to California…I saw the devastation that these unprecedented wildfires are having on our neighbors, friends and families,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue last month. “We commit to work more closely with the states to reduce the frequency and severity of wildfires. We commit to strengthening the stewardship of public and private lands. This report outlines our strategy and intent to help one another prevent wildfire from reaching this level.”


Both federal and private managers of forest land face a range of urgent challenges, among them catastrophic wildfires, invasive species, degraded watersheds, and epidemics of forest insects and disease, USFS said. The conditions fueling the circumstances are not improving. Of particular concern are longer fire seasons, the rising size and severity of wildfires, and the expanding risk to communities, natural resources and firefighters.


“The challenges before us require a new approach,” said Interim USFS Chief Vicki Christiansen. “This year Congress has given us new opportunities to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with state leaders to identify land management priorities that include mitigating wildfire risks. We will use all the tools available to us to reduce hazardous fuels, including mechanical treatments, prescribed fire, and unplanned fire in the right place at the right time, to mitigate them.”


Pat O’Toole, a Wyoming rancher and member of the SfL Board of Directors, calls the announced strategy a “good first step.” But he cautions that any collaborative effort in handling wildfires must ultimately address the massive scale of the problem.


“I am not the least bit critical” of the strategy, O’Toole said. However, he notes, “you cannot solve a million-acre problem with a 100-acre solution.”


President of the Family Farm Alliance, representing irrigators in the 17 Western states, O’Toole says 40 years of litigation over forestland access and regulation has suppressed the flexibility of approaches that have been taken to address the potential for wildfire destruction. He suggested the announced strategy might tip the pendulum toward a wider effort involving all parties, including the timber and livestock communities.


Given the historical impediments, one element of the USFS strategy that O’Toole particularly likes is the prioritization of investment decisions on forest treatments in direct coordination with states. Using the most advanced scientific tools, the approach allows the Forest Service to increase the scope and scale of critical forest treatments that protect communities and create resilient forests.


“It’s being designed to reflect a ‘good neighbor policy,'” he said of the USFS strategy. “It is integrating state and national government capabilities.”


The Wyoming rancher also says a case can and should be made for a standing contingent of local residents readily available to address fires from the early moments of ignition.


The USFS says it will also build upon the authorities created by the 2018 Omnibus Bill, including new categorical exclusions that can expedite land treatments to improve forest conditions, new road maintenance authorities and longer stewardship contracting in strategic areas. The agency says it will continue streamlining its internal processes to make environmental analysis more efficient and timber sale contracts more flexible.


The Omnibus Bill also includes a long-term “fire funding fix” starting in fiscal 2020 that will stop the rise of the 10-year average cost of fighting wild-land fire and reduce the likelihood of the disruptive practice of transferring funds from Forest Service non-fire programs to cover firefighting costs. The product of what the department says is more than a decade of hard work, the bipartisan solution will ultimately stabilize the agency’s operating environment.


Also, because rising rates of firefighter fatalities in recent decades have shifted the USFS’s approach to fire response, the report emphasizes the agency’s commitment to a risk-based response to wildfire, an approach not lost on O’Toole, given the seemingly growing number of conflagrations in recent years.


“Fires are going to be part of our future unless we ramp up active management of our forests,” he said. “Implementing the new Forest Service fire management plan and making sure the House forestry title is included in the final farm bill are important steps to take towards this end.”


Improving Soil Quality Can Slow Global Warming: UC Berkeley Study


Low-tech ways of improving soil quality on farms and rangelands worldwide could pull significant amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere and slow the pace of climate change, a new UC Berkeley study confirms.


The researchers found that well-established agricultural management practices such as planting cover crops, optimizing grazing and sowing legumes on rangelands, if instituted globally, could capture enough carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil to make a significant contribution to international global warming targets.


The study represents another affirmation of the principles advocated by the North America Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance (NACSAA) and Solutions from the Land (SfL).


Their initial aim was to determine if such practices could reduce global temperatures at least 0.1 degree Celsius (0.18 degrees Fahrenheit). This is one-tenth of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s goal of limiting the average global temperature increase between now and the year 2100 to 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees F), or 2 degrees above temperatures before the industrial revolution.


When combined with aggressive carbon emission reductions – the best scenario for limiting warming from climate change – the study found that improved agricultural management could reduce global temperatures 0.26 degrees Celsius – nearly half a degree Fahrenheit – by 2100.


“As someone who has been working on carbon sequestration for a long time, I have always had this question in the back of my mind, ‘Will sequestration in soils make a difference with climate change at a global scale?’ ” said study senior author Whendee Silver, a professor of environmental science, policy and management at UC Berkeley. “We found that there are a wide range of practices deployable on a large scale that could have a detectable worldwide impact. A big take-home message is that we know how to do this, it is achievable.”


By throwing in biochar, a controversial soil additive – essentially charcoal – obtained by burning crop residue in an oxygen-free environment, these practices could offset even more warming, potentially as much as 0.46 degrees Celsius (0.7ºF).


The caveat, Silver said, is that this “is only achievable if you couple sequestration with aggressive emissions reduction.” If carbon concentrations increase in the atmosphere, then sequestration becomes less effective at reducing temperature. We would have to pull much more carbon out to realize the same reductions.


She and her colleagues, including lead author Allegra Mayer, a UC Berkeley graduate student, published their findings Aug. 29 in the online journal

Science Advances


The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has established carbon-reduction goals to limit average global warming in 2100 to 2 degrees Celsius above global average temperatures before the industrial revolution, or about 1760. Earth is already halfway to that limit, having warmed 1 degree Celsius since 1880.


Silver studies various ways to sequester carbon in soils, including composting, to remove some of the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and slow the greenhouse-driven warming of the planet.


For the new study, Silver, Mayer and their colleagues – Zeke Hausfather of UC Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group and Andrew Jones of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – used global data on agricultural management approaches that are already known to increase soil carbon storage, along with a climate model that determined the potential impacts on climate if these approaches were widely adopted.


They initially calculated how much carbon would need to be sequestered from the atmosphere into soils to reduce temperatures 0.1 degree Celsius under four different scenarios, from business-as-usual emissions through 2100 to aggressive reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. For the most aggressive reduction scenario, they calculated that soils would have to sequester about 0.68 petagrams of carbon per year worldwide, or 750 million U.S. tons. That is equivalent to 2.5 petagrams of carbon dioxide. One petagram is 1015 or a million billion grams.


Their meta-analysis of existing studies of land management practices showed that improving soil quality could reach and even exceed this goal, largely from the improvement of degraded agricultural and grazing lands that are in use but producing less than optimally. Improved management tends to increase the biomass of crops, grass and their root systems by capturing carbon dioxide via photosynthesis, which results in more carbon storage in the soil.


“These are very commonly used approaches, though people don’t use them to sequester carbon – they are doing it for other reasons. Anytime you increase the organic content of soils, you are generally increasing the fertility, water-holding capacity, sustainability, decreasing erosion and general resilience to climate change,” said Silver, a biogeochemist who holds the Rudy Grah Endowed Chair in Forestry and Sustainability. “Sequestering carbon is a side benefit.”


The researchers did not consider newer practices, such as composting, that are not studied as widely, nor did they consider the effect of improving soil on abandoned land, both of which could increase soil carbon sequestration even more. Newer climate models also could simulate how carbon uptake will change as temperatures rise and rainfall patterns change.


“The point of our paper was to look at the temperature effect of implementing existing low-tech technologies already practiced within agriculture, in developing as well as developed countries,” Mayer said. “There could theoretically be an immediate and widespread adoption of many of these practices.”


With aggressive emissions targets, improved land management could pull about 1.78 petagrams of carbon from the atmosphere each year, while adding biochar to the mix could raise the yearly sequestration rate to 2.89 petagrams.


“Agriculture is often portrayed as the villain in climate change,” Silver said. “What is exciting is that, not only can agriculture contribute to solving the problem, but it can do so in a way that actually improves agricultural soils.”


The project was funded by the Rathmann Family Foundation with additional support from the DOE’s Office of Science.


Senators Call on EPA to Fix ‘Shortcoming’ in RFS Rule for 2019/2020 RVOs


Thirty-nine senators from both sides of the aisle have told EPA the agency’s June 2018 proposal to set blending targets for most biofuels in 2019 and for biomass-based diesel in 2020 “fails to include the necessary signals that EPA will ensure the annual [Required Volume Obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)] are fully met.”


Meanwhile, reports out of Washington last week indicate the White House is prepared to announce an end to the ban on summertime sales of E15. The move has been long sought by ethanol groups, who have been frustrated by any forward movement on the issue, even after President Trump announced his support for lifting the restriction earlier this year.


The letter from the bipartisan group of senators also calls for an increase in RVOs for biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels.


The senators’ comments are among more than 290,000 formal responses that came into EPA headquarters at the close last month of a 60-day comment period on the agency’s latest RFS proposal.


The RFS is seen as a principle policy tool in support of climate-smart agriculture, enabling U.S. agriculture to help reduce and avoid greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the program’s requirement to blend low-carbon fuel alternatives, including ethanol and biodiesel, into the nation’s transportation fuel supply.


Under the proposal, EPA called for 19.88 billion gallons of biofuels to be blended into the U.S. fuel supply in 2019, up from 19.29 billion gallons in 2018. The total includes 381 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel, 4.88 billion gallons of advanced biofuel and 2.1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel, which was set last year. The rule now under consideration would set a 2020 RVO for biomass-based diesel at 2.43 billion gallons, up 330 million gallons when compared to the 2019 and 2018 RVOs of 2.1 billion gallons.


Drawing significant attention is the proposed rule’s 2019 RVO for conventional biofuel – most of which is corn ethanol – of up to 15 billion gallons.


The ethanol industry, farm groups and their allies in Congress are questioning whether the 15-billion-gallon requirement carries any validity.


Disclosures that former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had been retroactively granting an unprecedented number of “hardship” waivers to refineries – releasing them from their requirements under the 2016 and 2017 RFS – appears to have cost the biofuel sector some 2.25 billion gallons in blended ethanol. The senators say another 300 million gallons of biomass-based diesel was lost to the waivers.


Pruitt is now out at EPA under a cloud of ethics violations. Renewable fuel and farm groups have sued the agency over the waivers and EPA’s failure to reallocate to other refiners the amount of biofuel lost to the hardship waivers.


In their letter, the senators note that the proposed rule “indicates EPA has not granted any hardship exemptions for 2019 and therefore did not consider exemptions in the proposed volumes.” However, given the “unprecedented number of exemptions for 2016 and 2017,” the agency “must accurately account for small refiner economic hardship exemptions in the final rule” for 2019/2020.


“It is critical that EPA appropriately account for any small refiner economic hardship exemptions that it reasonably expects to grant during the 2019 compliance year in the final rule, or EPA will not be able to fulfill its duty to ensure RVOs are met,” the senators’ letter states.


EPA insists it will not consider comments on the “hardship” waivers and their impact on RFS compliance as the agency formulates the RVOs for 2019 and 2020.


However, USDA issued a memo to EPA Aug. 15, two days before the end of the public comment period, stating the “current methodology in projecting zero small-refinery waivers and volumes in the preliminary (RFS) rule is inappropriate and results in an analytical inconsistency.”


Without such a waiver estimate, the 2019 proposal “significantly reduces the transparency of EPA operations and increases the uncertainty for market participants,” the memo states. The Agriculture Department said it “supports corrective suggestions for using a realistic projection of waived small-refinery volumes of gasoline and diesel production in the docket concerning these points.”


Elsewhere in their letter, the senators said the proposed RVOs “underestimate the existing potential of the biodiesel and renewable diesel industries in our states” and that EPA “should demonstrate more confidence in the RFS program’s ability to drive growth. Increasing biomass-based diesel and advance biofuel volumes would encourage investment in capacity and new fuel development.”


Noting that every 500-million-gallon increase in biodiesel production supports an estimated 16,000 jobs, the senators say the nation has “made great progress through the RFS in diversifying our nation’s fuel supply while creating and sustaining jobs, strengthening local economies, generating tax revenues, and improving energy security.”


The letter comes in support of similar comments from the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).


“The biomass-based diesel industry has proven year after year that it can deliver increasing volumes,” said Kurt Kovarik, vice president of federal affairs for the trade group. “We appreciate the agency’s recognition of that fact and welcome the signal of growth in the proposed rule. NBB asks that you fully support the industry’s growth by setting the biomass-based diesel volume for 2020 at 2.8 billion gallons and increasing the 2019 advanced biofuel volume to allow growth.”


At the Farm Progress Show in Iowa last week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Trump ordered him and EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler to put together a deal that the president could announce this week.


“The President called me this morning and said ‘let’s get it done,'” Perdue told reporters and biofuel supporters last Wednesday, adding that Trump “wants to get that done, so hopefully he’ll have an announcement hopefully sooner rather than later.”


A deal seemingly reached last spring under which the summertime ban would be lifted in when ethanol’s congressional allies objected to a part of the deal that would attach Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), certificates of compliance under the RFS, to exported ethanol. Biofuel sector leaders said the move would undermine the compliance incentive for refineries to meet their RFS obligations.


Also last week, the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy joined in a lawsuit in federal district court, alleging that EPA and DOE have failed to lawfully comply with the Freedom of Information Act and improperly denied the two trade groups the agency records related to the hardship waivers granted to refineries.


Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA) says he recently received a letter in response to questions he laid out for Pruitt at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing four months ago. But Loebsack says the response falls far short of fully answering the 13 questions or requests for further information that he posed.


The letter does disclose that the agency has received only two requests for hardship waivers so far this year. But it also states that EPA granted seven waivers in response to 15 petitions in 2015; jumping to 19 of 20 in 2016, when Pruitt took over as EPA chief; and spiraling up 29 of 34 petitions in 2017, with the remaining five still under consideration.


Other Biofuel-Related Groups Challenge EPA RFS Proposal in Comments


Other biofuel-related groups using their comments to challenge EPA’s 2019/2020 proposal for biofuel blending targets include the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).


Bob Dinneen, RFA president and CEO, said EPA’s continued “abuse” of small refinery hardship waivers renders the proposed 2019 RVOs meaningless. The RFA is among those suing the agency over the RFS proposal.


“Issuing small refiner exemptions after the RVO rule is finalized – as EPA did for the 2016 and 2017 RVO rules and appears poised to do for the 2018 RVO – has the practical impact of reducing the actual required blending volumes to levels below those specified in the final rule,” Dinneen said. “Thus, we do not consider the volumes that appear in the proposed rule to be authentic, meaning the preamble’s analyses of the impacts of the 2019 proposed volumes are flawed and indefensible,”


Dinneen said a preliminary draft of the 2019 RFS proposal included projections of exempted volumes of gasoline and diesel from small refineries, a move aimed at including the exemptions in the RVO calculation to increase the RVO percentage for remaining obligated parties, ensuring that the statutorily specified volumes of renewable fuel are in fact blended with gasoline and diesel.


However, Dinneen wrote, “the administrative record shows that just days before the proposed rule was made public, EPA inexplicably deleted the provisions that would have effectively reallocated the projected small refiner exemptions.”


In addition to accounting for projected small refinery exemptions in calculating the 2019 RVO percentages in the final rule, Dinneen also called on EPA to comply with a court mandate to reallocate 500 million gallons of conventional renewable fuel that were missing from the 2016 RVO due to EPA’s “illegal application” of its general waiver authority.


Growth Energy, a trade group representing ethanol manufacturers, also called on EPA to account for gallons lost due to small refinery exemptions. Furthermore, CEO Emily Skor renewed an ethanol industry request for Reid vapor pressure (RVP) relief to allow for year-round sales of E15, a move promised by President Trump.


“On its face, this is a strong proposal with a 15-billion-gallon commitment to starch ethanol and a significant increase in cellulosic biofuels,” Skor said. “However, the proposed RVO has failed to account for the 2.25 billion gallons lost due to small refinery exemptions. By failing to account for these exemptions, EPA has made the numbers hollow turning the clock back on the RFS by 5 years.”


Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol, said the proposal shows “EPA continues to take actions which undermine the letter and spirit of the statute and harm the rural economy. While refiners are reporting double-digit profits, the heart of America is being left behind. Farmers are losing money while refiners have the best of both worlds: fat profit margins and minimal RFS compliance costs. EPA needs to discard its refiner-win-at-all-costs mentality and get the RFS back on track.”


He said the “so-called ‘hardship’ waivers…flood the market with RINs (certificate of refiner compliance with the RFS), which refiners can bank, thereby artificially inflating the size of the RIN carryover to more than 3 billion gallons.


As a result, he said that D6 RINs that were valued at about 90 cents each a year ago are now down to 20 cents today, an 80-percent collapse that has reduced the incentive among refiners to blend ethanol with gasoline, when simply paying for RINs would be less expensive.”


The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) said EPA has an obligation to use its authority under the RFS to help boost America’s rural economy.


Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial and Environmental Section, said that “at a time when America’s farmers and rural businesses are suffering under the weight of low crop prices and so much trade uncertainty, EPA should seize the opportunity afforded by the RFS program to promote the type of innovation that will help grow advanced and cellulosic biofuels, create more good paying jobs, and help revitalize rural America by strengthening our world-leading biobased economy.”


“The RFS program,” Erickson said, “is an important program for ensuring that America’s rural economies can remain globally competitive and that the hard-working families in these communities are able to flourish and thrive.”


Noting a boost in advanced and cellulosic biofuel RVOs will drive more investment in their technologies, the BIO executive also addressed demand destruction resulting from the EPA’s increased use of small refinery hardship waivers, stressing that the waivers undermine the agency’s obligations to enforce both the letter and spirit of the law.


The Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas (RNG Coalition), Energy Vision, National Waste and Recycling Association, Natural Gas Vehicles for America and Solid Waste Association of North America jointly submitted comments in support of EPA’s proposal to increase 2019 RVOs for cellulosic and advanced biofuels.


“The renewable natural gas (RNG) industry is leading the way in the delivery of cellulosic biofuel in the United States, making up over 95 percent of our nation’s cellulosic biofuel production and generation of D3 Renewable Identification Numbers under the RFS,” said RNG Coalition CEO Johannes Escudero. “Our comments are supportive of EPA’s proposal to increase the 2019 minimum applicable volume for both cellulosic and advanced biofuels from 2018 to reflect the continued growth and investments being made in the RNG industry.”


ACE White Paper Cites Low-Carbon Benefits of Corn Ethanol


The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) released a White Paper Aug. 17 highlighting the low-carbon benefits of corn ethanol and the need for regulators to use the most up-to-date lifecycle modelling when evaluating ethanol’s use in future fuel systems.


The release of “The Case for Properly Valuing the Low Carbon Benefits of Corn Ethanol” coincided with a general session panel at the 31st annual ACE conference in Minneapolis, which highlighted the paper in a discussion on updates to lifecycle modeling and opportunities on the horizon for ethanol as a low carbon fuel.


The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was enacted, in part, to drive innovation and production of low carbon biofuels that reduce GHG emissions, ACE officials say, noting that as a result, the program has successfully replaced 10 percent of petroleum in the U.S. transportation fleet with carbon-friendly fuel.


However, EPA has yet to update its original corn ethanol GHG assessments from when the RFS was enacted over a decade ago to reflect today’s significant GHG reduction benefits, the trade group says.


“The ACE White Paper makes a compelling case that lifecycle GHG modeling must reflect the latest science if low carbon fuel programs are to achieve their desired results,” said Brendan Jordan, vice president of the Great Plains Institute. “[The institute] agrees there is a huge opportunity for existing corn ethanol plants to lower their carbon footprint through innovative technology and updated lifecycle modeling.


“We’re just beginning to see the potential for environmental improvements through carbon capture and storage, soil carbon and agronomy, and plant efficiencies,” Jordan added. “The ACE White Paper makes an important contribution toward making progress on these goals.”


Jordan joined Bill Hohenstein, acting director of the Office of Energy Policy and New Uses within the Office of the Chief Economist, USDA; and Ron Alverson, member of ACE’s Board of Directors representing Dakota Ethanol and a chief contributor to the White Paper, on the panel moderated by ACE CEO Brian Jennings.


“Since the direct effects on soil carbon stocks of each biofuel feedstock crop can have a very large impact on carbon intensity, it is crucial that this accounting is included in the modeling,” Alverson said. “The trend is biofuel’s friend – petroleum-based transportation fuel lifecycle GHGs continue to rise and biofuel lifecycle GHGs continue to improve.”


“It’s ACE’s hope that our white paper will build consensus for recognizing the significant climate benefits from further expansion of corn ethanol production and us in the U.S. beyond volumes called for in the RFS,” Jennings said. “We intend for the white paper to inform stakeholders and policymakers at the state and federal level as they consider changes to existing low carbon fuel programs or the adoption of new clean fuel initiatives in the future.”


The full White Paper is published HERE.


Leaders say ACE is an organization of farmers, ranchers, “Main Street” businesses, scientists, investors and renewable fuel producers who work together to inform consumers and elected officials that in addition to helping keep gas prices low, creating jobs, improving the economy, displacing foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, ethanol delivers a great deal of human good.


NIFA Invests $13.3 Million To Improve Agroecosystem Resilience


NIFA recently awarded 16 research education and extension grants that officials say will help plan for and adapt to a changing environment and climate.


“We need to understand the best way to use and manage our natural resources to sustainably produce food and fiber for a growing population, ensuring prosperity for our producers as climate, environmental, and the socioeconomic conditions change,” NIFA said in a statement on the grants. “These projects will help us understand how changing conditions will impact our ability to produce food and fiber into the future and provide tools and strategies to adapt to these changes for a sustainable and resilient agriculture.”


The grants are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).


Among those receiving grants is Robyn Wilson, an associate professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) at The Ohio State University. Wilson is the principal investigator of a newly funded project, “Regional Integrated Modeling of Farmer Adaptations to Guide Agroecosystem Management in a Changing Climate.”


The $1.1 million investment by will elevate the capacity of decision makers in the eastern Corn Belt Region (ECBR) to adapt to an increasingly variable climate and the associated changes that this increased variability may bring.


The research aims to identify how changing seasonal and extreme precipitation patterns induce changes in ECBR land use and management patterns due to adaptations by heterogeneous farmers and the broader human system. The results will help to guide more sustainable and resilient agroecosystems across the nation, officials say.


Katharine Suding, Colorado University-Boulder Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Professor, was awarded a $1.2 million research grant for a four-years project is titled, “Livestock ranching, rangelands, and Resilience: Ensuring adaptive capacity in an increasingly variable climate.”


Suding, who is a fellow with the university’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, the Niwot LTER lead principal investigator, and ESA’s 2018 Robert H. MacArthur awardee, serves as the lead investigator. Collaborators on the project are from Utah State, University of California-Davis, University of Arizona, the U.S. Geological Survey, New Mexico State University and USDA’s Agriculture Research Service.


Suding and her collaborators will address agrosystems resilience through the lens of drought, one of the most devastating natural hazards faced by the United States today. Their project aims to implement climate adaptation that is tailored to local diversity in exposures, sensitivities and adaptation opportunities faced by ranchers and land managers. Differences in vulnerability are key considerations in building adaptation strategies as well as commonalities between vegetation and human adaptation strategies.


The comparative framework spans five rangeland regions within the Western United States: California annual grasslands, cold deserts, northern mixed prairie, shortgrass steppe and hot deserts.


The team’s approach combines climate modeling and assessment with forage and livestock production models in a co-development framework to build scenarios and assess feasible, effective adaptation strategies. This iterative process combines research and extension to support a co-development of ideas, capitalizing on diverse adaptation strategies across western rangelands.


The place-based coproduction approach, embedding extension efforts throughout the project framework, will allow the research team to understand on-going adaptations to recent climate variability by the innovators and early adopters, and then to explore how those early adaptations may need modification under future climate scenarios.


Changing Climate Projected to Boost Insects, Crop Loss: Studies


Evidence that underscores the need for a Climate Smart Agriculture approach to food production and the reduction in emissions it can bring about is shown in two studies released last week, with one showing that a changing climate can be expected to accelerate the rates of crop loss due to increased insect activity.


Scientists have already warned that a changing climate likely will impact the food we grow. Rising global temperatures and more frequent “extreme” weather events like droughts and floods are expected to negatively affect our ability to produce food for a growing human population.


In a paper published Aug. 31 in the journal Science , a team led by scientists at the University of Washington reports that insect activity in today’s temperate, crop-growing regions will rise along with temperatures. Researchers project that the activity, in turn, will boost worldwide losses of rice, corn and wheat by 10-25 percent for each degree Celsius that global mean surface temperatures rise. Just a 2-degree Celsius rise in surface temperatures will push the total losses of these three crops each year to approximately 213 million tons.


Meanwhile, an international research team has found that most of the planet’s land-based ecosystems – from its forests and grasslands to the deserts and tundra – are at high risk of “major transformation” due to changes in climate.


At the University of Washington, Curtis Deutsch, an associate professor of oceanography and co-lead author on the insect activity study, cites two reasons for increasing crop losses.


“First, warmer temperatures increase insect metabolic rates exponentially,” Deutsch said. “Second, with the exception of the tropics, warmer temperatures will increase the reproductive rates of insects. You have more insects, and they’re eating more.”


In 2016, the United Nations estimated that at least 815 million people worldwide don’t get enough to eat. Corn, rice and wheat are staple crops for about 4 billion people, and account for about two-thirds of the food energy intake, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.


“Global warming impacts on pest infestations will aggravate the problems of food insecurity and environmental damages from agriculture worldwide,” said co-author Rosamond Naylor, a professor in the Department of Earth System Science at Stanford University and founding director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment. “Increased pesticide applications, the use of GMOs, and agronomic practices such as crop rotations will help control losses from insects. But it still appears that under virtually all climate change scenarios, pest populations will be the winners, particularly in highly productive temperate regions, causing real food prices to rise and food-insecure families to suffer.”


The team looked at decades of laboratory experiments that showed conclusively that increases in temperature will accelerate the metabolism of insects like aphids and corn borers metabolism at a fairly consistent, predictable rate, boosting their appetites. In addition, increasing temperatures boost reproductive rates, though those rates level off at temperature levels akin to what exist today in the tropics.


Folded the metabolic and reproductive effects into a model of insect population dynamics, the researchers looked at how that model changed based on different climate change scenarios. Those scenarios incorporated information based on where corn, rice and wheat – the three largest staple crops in the world – are currently grown.


“Temperate regions are currently cooler than what’s optimal for most insects. But if temperatures rise, these insect populations will grow faster,” said co-author Scott Merrill, a researcher at the University of Vermont’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Gund Institute for Environment. “They will also need to eat more, because rising temperatures increase insect metabolism. Together, that’s not good for crops.”


For a 2-degree Celsius rise in global mean surface temperatures, their model predicts that median losses in yield due to insect activity would be 31 percent for corn, 19 percent for rice and 46 percent for wheat. Under those conditions, total annual crop losses would reach 62, 92 and 59 million tons, respectively.


The impacts are expected to be felt more in temperate regions of the globe, including the U.S. Corn Belt.


The team says that efforts such as shifting where crops are grown or trying to breed insect-resistant crops to less he impacts will take time and come with their own costs.


In another study published in Science last week, scientists say that without dramatic reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, most of the planet’s land-based ecosystems are at high risk of “major transformation” due to changes in climate.


The researchers used fossil records of global vegetation change that occurred during a period of post-glacial warming to project the magnitude of ecosystem transformations likely in the future under various greenhouse gas emissions scenarios.


They found that under a “business as usual” emissions scenario, in which little is done to rein in heat-trapping greenhouse-gas emissions, vegetation changes across the planet’s wild landscapes will likely be more far-reaching and disruptive than earlier studies suggested.


The changes would threaten global biodiversity and derail vital services that nature provides to humanity, such as water security, carbon storage and recreation.


“If we allow climate change to go unchecked, the vegetation of this planet is going to look completely different than it does today, and that means a huge risk to the diversity of the planet,” said Jonathan Overpeck, dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan, and co-author of the study with Stephen T. Jackson of the U.S. Geological Survey.



Other News We Are Reading…

Other News We Are Reading


Destructive Flood Risk in U.S. West Could Triple if Climate Change Left Unchecked

(Inside Climate News)


The risk of devastating floods like the one that damaged California’s Oroville Dam in 2017 will soar in many of North America’s Western river basins by 2100, if we don’t dramatically slow climate change, according to a new study.


The research provides a grim analysis of a particularly destructive kind of extreme weather event called a “rain-on-snow” flood. Common in mountain regions-and increasing as temperatures rise-these events happen when heavy rains fall on top of deep snowpack, melting it and triggering intense floods.


California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Rocky Mountains west of Denver and parts of the Canadian Rockies are especially vulnerable, according to the research published Aug. 6 in Nature Climate Change. (Read more…)


Six Important Points About the Affordable Clean Energy Rule



On Aug. 21, EPA published a proposed rule to replace the Clean Power Plan. The proposal, entitled the “Affordable Clean Energy Rule,” would establish a framework for controlling CO2 emissions from existing power plants which is significantly less effective and environmentally protective than its predecessor. Here are six important things to know about the proposed rule:


  1. The proposal sets a very low bar for emissions reductions.

The Clean Air Act mandates that the performance standards established for existing sources under Section 111(d) must reflect the “best system of emissions reduction” (BSER) for the pollutant and source category being regulated. EPA is proposing to define the BSER for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing power plants as on-site, heat-rate efficiency improvements. In other words, the performance standards established for power plants would only reflect those emission reductions that can be achieved through making the existing plants more efficient-they would not reflect the much larger reductions that could be achieved by switching to cleaner energy sources and improving demand-side energy efficiency (often referred to as measures “outside the fence line” of power plants). As a result, the standards will be considerably less stringent.

The standards may also fail to ensure emissions reductions at all, insofar as there may be a “rebound effect” wherein plants that implement heat-rate improvements may be called upon to run more hours, thus increasing the total amount of CO2 generated (while still complying with performance standards). EPA explicitly recognizes the potential for such a rebound effect in the proposal without providing any recommendation for mitigating the effect.


  1. There are no numerical standards or targets for GHG reductions, and states will have wide latitude to establish their own performance targets. (Read more)

Utilities Recommit to Clean Energy in Wake of Administration’s Regulatory Rollback

(Greentech Media)


By releasing a proposed replacement for the Clean Power Plan, the Trump administration once again showed its determination to save struggling coal-fired power plants. But some of the nation’s largest operators of the plants don’t appear to be reaching for the rope.


The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan empowered states to pursue emissions reductions and energy savings across the power grid, beyond the fence line of any individual power plant. The new Trump administration proposal directs the focus back to individual power plants by urging operators to make onsite efficiency upgrades. The proposal also delegates authority to states to determine if individual power plants are in compliance with clean air rules.


But because more efficient plants would be more economical to run, the rule could lead owners to run the upgraded coal plants more often, potentially increasing power sector emissions. According to the EPA’s own data, the proposal could lead to as many as 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030.


Greentech Media reached out to utilities at Electric Power Research Institute’s electrification conference – particularly those with a sizable share of coal in their power generation mix – for comment on the Affordable Clean Energy proposal. (Read more…)


California Ups Clean Energy Game With 100% Zero-Carbon Electricity Vote

(Inside Climate News)


In a move to solidify California’s role as a world leader on climate action, state lawmakers voted this week to shift their state-the world’s fifth-largest economy-to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045.


The legislation now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature. Brown hasn’t commented on it but is widely expected to sign the legislation as one of the crowning environmental achievements of his administration, which ends in January. The renewable energy commitment also comes on the cusp of a Global Climate Action Summit that Brown is hosting in San Francisco beginning Sept.12.


In a summer when California has been fighting record wildfires while facing off against the Trump administration’s attempts to rollback climate policies, the state’s Democratic-controlled legislature sought to double down on its commitment to shift away from fossil fuels. (Read more…)


Groups Ask Calif. to Draw Back on Proposal That Picks Winners, Losers



In a rare moment of unity, biofuels, environmental and other groups are calling on the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to change a new provision in its low-carbon fuel standard that the groups say would give hydrogen electric vehicle fuels an advantage over biofuels and other renewable energy sources.


CARB has proposed awarding LCFS credits to companies that install hydrogen refueling and electric vehicle recharging infrastructure, based on the capacity of the infrastructure even if the fuels aren’t used. What’s more, the state would award those companies with a double credit if the technology actually dispenses fuels.


California’s low-carbon fuel standard has in recent years opened up the state’s market for corn ethanol from the Midwest, using corn ethanol for the majority of its carbon emissions reduction efforts. (Read more…)



Partner News and CSA Events


Global Climate Summit Set for Next Week in San Francisco


The 2018 Global Climate Action Summit, set for Sept. 12-14 in San Francisco, will bring together state and local governments, business, and citizens from around the world to showcase climate action taking place, thereby demonstrating how the tide has turned in the race against climate change and inspiring deeper national commitments in support of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.


To keep warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, and ideally 1.5 degrees, and avoid temperatures that could lead to catastrophic consequences, worldwide emissions must start trending down by 2020, summit organizers say.


The Summit will show-case climate action around the world, along with bold new commitments, to give world leaders confidence to go even further by 2020.


The Summit’s five headline challenge areas are Healthy Energy Systems; Inclusive Economic Growth; Sustainable Communities; Land Stewardship; and Transformative Climate Investments


A series of reports are set to be launched over the coming months and at the summit underlining the contribution of states and regions, cities, businesses, investors and civil society, also known as “non-party stakeholders” to national and international efforts to address climate change.


Many partners are supporting the summit and the mobilization in advance, including Climate Group; the Global Covenant of Mayors; the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group; BSR; We Mean Business; CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project; the World Wide Fund for Nature; and Mission 2020. To learn more about how your organization can engage in the summit, click HERE.


Summit organizers are providing new evidence of how cities, states, regions, businesses and investors are taking climate ambition to the next level. Officials say the widespread efforts are helping to build momentum for a successful outcome for the UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland (COP24) at the end of the year.


The summit in San Francisco will be hosted by the California Gov. Jerry Brown; the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action, Michael Bloomberg; the Chairman of the Mahindra Group, Anand Mahindra; and the Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa.


In addition to adding critical momentum to the COP24 negotiations in Poland this December – when governments of the world will meet to signal their readiness to enhance ambition – the summit in San Francisco will build momentum for a strong outcome at the Climate Summit to be convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres in 2019, and to elevate climate action plans – Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs – by 2020.


“2018 is the year when the world must step up climate action to bend down emissions by 2020 – and set the stage for the fast and full implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and its crucial temperature goal,” said Nick Nuttall, the September summit’s communications director. “The summit will bring businesses, states, cities, regions, territories and people from around the world together and in common cause to take climate ambition to the next level.”


For more information on the September summit, click HERE.


Canada to Host G7 Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change, Clean Energy


Canada will co-host a meeting of G7 Environment, Energy and Oceans Ministers in Halifax, Nova Scotia, from Sept. 19-21. The ministerial meeting follows up a G7 leaders summit in Quebec last month.


Under the theme of “Working Together on Climate Change, Oceans and Clean Energy,” ministers will discuss global climate action, clean growth and sustainable finance, resilient coasts and fisheries, plastic pollution, energy security and clean energy.


“To achieve a more sustainable future, we need to tackle climate change, improve the health of the world’s oceans and transform the way we produce, transport and use energy,” the Canadian government said in a statement.


“This G7 Ministerial Meeting is a tremendous opportunity to help advance climate action, cut plastic pollution in our oceans and accelerate the clean energy transition,” said Catherine McKenna, Canada’s minister of Environment and Climate Change. “Canada is proud to be among the leaders working to tackle these global challenges and seize the opportunities they represent as we build a more sustainable future for our kids and grandkids.”


The G7 is an informal grouping of seven of the world’s advanced economies consisting of Canada, France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Italy, as well as the European Union. Canada holds the G7 Presidency until December 31, 2018.


We encourage our NACSAA partners and other stakeholders to share with us any organization news or events highlighting your role in climate smart agriculture. We look forward to including your information in our monthly newsletter. Simply send your news or event notices to

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