Obama Points to Agriculture, Eating Habits as New Front in Climate Fight
In his first speech outside the United States since the end of his presidency, Barack Obama concentrated on agriculture as the second-largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, after energy, and as a new front in the fight against climate change.
“Our changing climate is already making it more difficult to produce food,” Obama told the Seeds & Chips conference in Milan last week. “We’ve already seen shrinking yields and rising food prices.” Those costs will be borne disproportionately by the poor, he added, noting that refugees headed toward Europe have been driven by famine, not conflict.
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“When we think about issues like food security or climate change, ultimately politicians can help guide policy, but the energy to bring about change is going to come from what people do every day,” he told conference participants.
“It’s going to come from parents who are concerned about the impact climate change may have on their child, from business people who say how can we use less energy or waste less resources in making our products. It’s millions of decisions made individually that have the ability to make changes.”
While he stressed the success of the Paris agreement as a catalyst for private sector investment in climate solutions, Obama acknowledged the landmark global deal was largely silent on food production. “We are actually seeing a continuing increase in emissions coming out of the agriculture sector, and a lot of that has to do with changing diets around the world,” he said.