JOHANNESBURG - The United States and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday used COP26 climate talks to launch efforts to channel funding into making agriculture resilient to climate change, as well as to cut its emissions.
The farming industry, a major part of the U.S. economy, is already battling the effects of climate change, including unpredictable weather and increased drought and flooding.
The United Arab Emirates, which has offered to host climate talks in 2023, has grown rich from its oil revenues, but has also developed technology to improve food yields from its largely desert territory.
The two countries launched the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) at the U.N. talks under way in Glasgow, Scotland, that are seen as critical to averting the most disastrous impacts of climate change.
"The climate crisis threatens to disrupt food systems around the globe, exacerbate food insecurity and negatively impact farmers' livelihoods," U.S. agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said, adding investment to help the industry adapt was needed.
AIM so far has the backing of more than 30 countries and 40 NGOs.
The participating governments, which span Europe, Asia and Africa, have agreed to increase public and private investment in "climate-smart agriculture" in their countries, with commitments so far, almost entirely from governments, amounting to $4 billion collectively.
As well as being on the frontline of severe weather, farming is responsible for nearly a quarter of all climate warming emissions, the AIM for Climate's statement said.
The available funds, which are controlled by the individual governments, will be used to drive research into reducing agricultural emissions and promoting biodiversity, as well as improving farms' climate resilience.
Separately, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $315 million on Tuesday to the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR), which will be used to help small farmers adapt, including via stress-tolerant crop varieties and climate-forecasting services.
(Reporting by Emma Rumney; editing by Barbara Lewis) ((Emma.Rumney@thomsonreuters.com; +27115952832;))