reducing emmissons

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GHG Impacts of Agriculture

By: Laura McFarlan

August 25th, 2017


Since 2010, Waterloo Region has been on course for doing our part to reduce climate change. Over the past 5 years, the Region had been implementing a plan committed to reducing our community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 6% below the 2010 levels by 2020.

Our progress report published in June marks that half way point. Thus far we’ve decreased GHG emissions by 5.2% since 2010. This had been done through focusing on five key areas: transportation, workplace, home, agriculture, and waste. Even though sometimes it might not feel like it, all of us have an important role to play in reaching our set goals.


The previous post discusses the role of waste in the climate change processes and steps that everyone in the community can take to do their part. The following post will focus on the second smallest key area – agriculture. From 2010 – 2015 agriculture has been responsible for 5% of all GHG emission in the Region of Waterloo. While there has been a decrease of 3% in GHG emission within the agriculture sector, it is not necessarily good news.

We might not be able to reduce agriculture emissions to 0% but we can use agriculture emissions to our advantage. Methane is the dominate GHG produced in agriculture production, which is 23 times more powerful than CO2. However, we can harness this energy, using aspects of agriculture production as bioenergy allowing for the offset of GHG emissions. Using the power of poop, we can take innovative steps to decreasing the impact of agriculture.

Having a thriving agriculture sector in our community is important for reducing the footprint of the food we eat and encouraging long-term sustainability. According to David Suzuki, most food travels 1200 KM before reaching the plate, food grown closer to home is fresher and has far fewer transportation emissions associated with it.  Understanding the transportation costs sometimes associated with agriculture encourages us to visit our local farmers market.


Interested in some steps you can take to decrease the impacts of agricultural GHG emissions? Check out some of the simple steps you can take at home.

  1. Meatless Mondays: Ditch the meat for one day a week and become a part of a growing phenomenon.
  2. Eat Local:Waterloo Region is home to a number of farmers markets that are accessible by public transit. Eating local means you get less packaging waste and your foods carbon footprint is much smaller
  3. Buy Only What You’ll Eat: The average home throw out ¼ food purchases. Planning meals ahead and making sure you only buy what you need allows you to decrease potential food waste

Are you a farmer?

Below are some farm specific ideas for you to take to decrease GHG emissions

  1. Manure management: Understand the implications of manure and take the necessary steps to reduce GHG emissions when storing and using manure
  2. Power of Poop: Be open to the abilities of bioenergy for supporting the community now and into the future


Each of us are a part of this community and involved in lowering our communities GHG emissions. If you have a great idea for decreasing agricultural GHG emissions – as a farmer or someone who lives in the city – reach out to ClimateActionWR.

Want more information on the ClimateActionWR plan to see how the Region of Waterloo has improved over the past 5 years? Check out the other innovative changes made across our region.

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