National | Media Release

Federal 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan is One Step Toward Ag Emissions Reduction

March 30, 2022

SASKATOON, SK—On Tuesday, the Federal Government released its 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan as part of its commitments under the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act.

Stuart Oke, Ontario farmer and Chair of the NFU’s Climate Committee commented: “The Federal Government appears sincerely interested in actions to actually reduce agricultural emissions.  In some cases, the government has taken large strides, including its commitment to work with farmers to reduce emissions from fertilizer use by 30%.  In other cases, however, the steps seem tentative or halting; I’m concerned that Ottawa is projecting only a very small decrease in total agricultural emissions between now and 2030.  And there are many missteps, including ramping up biofuel production and a focus on speculative agri-technologies that benefit large corporations, risk farmer techno-entanglement, and seem unlikely to reduce emissions.  If we intend to truly unleash the potential of Canadian agriculture to solve this problem we need consistent and clear ambition from the government, ambition that is guided by farmers and science.”

Tuesday’s Federal Plan appears to include only a slight decrease in actual emissions from agriculture between 2019 and 2030—projecting a reduction from 73 million tonnes (Mt) carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2019 to 71 Mt CO2e in 2030 (see table in ECCC Backgrounder).  Oke stated: “Farmers want to do more.  A 20% reduction in total agricultural emissions should be possible by 2030 if we have adequate government support.”  He noted that agricultural organizations and coalitions are working out the details of effective on-farm actions and government policies that could result in large reductions.

Darrin Qualman, NFU Director of Climate Crisis Policy and Action, noted some positives in Tuesday’s Plan, including the Government’s acknowledgement that “Farmers will need improved extension and knowledge transfer services from industry, academia, and agrologists to support their adoption of new technologies and practices.”  He commented that “farmers need access to public servant agrologists, independent of input companies.  Employees of agri-retailers aren’t going to help farmers reduce input use or emissions.”   The NFU has proposed a new federal agency—the Canadian Farm Resilience Administration (CFRA)—to hire, train, and manage thousands of additional extension agrologists, independent of agribusiness and focused on emission reduction and sustainability.

The 2030 Plan states that “The agriculture sector has the potential to sequester even more carbon at the 2050 horizon through increased use of natural climate solutions such as cover cropping, shelterbelts, agroforestry, rotational grazing, and improved manure management.”  In response, Qualman flagged a need for immediate wetlands protection, retention of trees and shelterbelts, set-aside programs, and the transition of marginal land to protected status.  He stated: “The federal government projects additional millions of tonnes of carbon sequestration.  But right now, wetlands destruction, tree removal, and the tillage of grasslands amount to a desequestration megaproject.  There is a pressing need to protect parts of the agricultural landscape rich in carbon and biodiversity.  There can be no credible plans for additional carbon sequestration until governments take steps to staunch the massive carbon release now underway.”

The NFU has been a Canadian leader in helping farmers and policymakers understand agricultural emissions and actions to reduce them.  Last week, the NFU published a new report, Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Canada: A New, Comprehensive Assessment, In 2019, the NFU published the pathbreaking report Tackling the Farm Crisis and the Climate Crisis: A Transformative Strategy for Canadian Farms and Food Systems.


For more information, please contact:

Darrin Qualman,
Director of Climate Crisis Policy Action
(306) 230-9115

Stuart Oke
Chair of the NFU Climate Committee
(613) 802-3477