In a video first shared to the platform X (formerly Twitter), Kerry says that, globally, agriculture accounts for anywhere from 26 percent to 33 percent of greenhouse gases (though he zeros in primarily on the 33 percent number), and that “we can’t get to net zero — we don’t get this job done — unless agriculture is front and center as part of the solution.”
Perhaps Mr. Kerry doesn’t realize that agriculture has been among the most active parts of the climate solution for years?
Frequent private jet passenger, John Kerry, admits that destruction of the farming industry is essential to achieving ‘Net Zero’:
“Agriculture contributes about 33% of all the emissions of the world. And we can’t get to net zero—we don’t get this job done—unless agriculture is… pic.twitter.com/1nlzrDFr6A
— Wide Awake Media (@wideawake_media) July 30, 2023
What is “net zero” exactly? Net zero is like a carry-in/carry-out park: You bring the trash in, you take the trash out. The trash here would be greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide and methane. Animals and crops cannot be grown without releasing greenhouse gasses into the air; what a net zero system does is make sure that every farmer is offsetting their emissions.
It is easy to think about all the ways farming emits greenhouse gasses, but it’s hard to think about how farmers contribute to cleaning the air. According to Michigan State University, an acre of corn can absorb 18 tons of carbon dioxide simply by growing. On average, a farm uses about seven gallons of diesel per acre, and that translates to about 161 pounds of carbon dioxide per acre, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. So, by planting an acre of corn, we are bringing 161 pounds of carbon dioxide with us, but are taking out eight tons.
It’s that kind of perspective that Kerry seems unable to grasp and has led Republican U.S. Rep. Mary Miller of Illinois to tweet that Kerry’s statements were “an attack on American farmers.”
Furthermore, complaints have been stirring over where Kerry’s “26 percent to 33 percent” data comes from.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, agriculture accounts for 24 percent of emissions globally (while it is only 11.2 percent of emissions in the United States), and it’s unclear why Kerry would cite a number that contradicts his own federal agency. Other sources show the global percentages for ag to be even lower that what the EPA says, like here at 18.4 percent.
The United Nations has said that the full supply chain — including production, processing, shipping, restaurants, grocery sales, and more — is 31 percent of global emissions, but that stretches well outside of what farmers and ranchers themselves do and goes into much broader sectors.
“You just can’t continue to both warm the planet, while also expecting to feed it. It doesn’t work,” Kerry said in the viral video.” So we have to reduce emissions from the food system.”
Countless Republican politicians have pushed back against Kerry, citing both his antagonistic statements toward farmers and the apparent hypocrisy of using of an emissions-spewing private jet for many of his travels.
Agriculture has long been a leader in reducing carbon emissions — even when this issue wasn’t such a national priority. Ag has managed to increase yields while reducing our inputs across both crop and animal ag sectors. And according to the American Farm Bureau Federation (which has adopted climate change as a policy focus), farmers could cut their carbon footprint in half just by further adopting techniques they’re already using.
“That’s the message people need to hear,” said agriculture writer Amanda Zaluckyj. “Agriculture should be a model for the electric and transportation sectors, which contribute a whopping 55 percent of emissions. We can show other industries how to do it in a sustainable way.”