This week, the United States and the United Arab Emirates announced their joint initiative “Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate” (AIM for Climate or AIM4C). While addressing agriculture’s role in the climate crisis was long overdue, the initiative starkly abandons the solutions that are right in front of us. Instead of being a win for nature and communities, the plan serves up more time, money, and power for corporations and factory farming.
AIM4C is the first global initiative to call for investments in food systems innovation and technology. According to the USDA, the plan will channel funding to government research agencies, academic institutions, international research centers, and laboratory networks. It has over 70 partners and runs through 2025.
The ideologies and tactics presented by AIM for Climate are egregiously flawed and set forth a dangerous path for the future of our climate, communities, and ecosystems.
Four Failures of AIM for Climate
AIM4C fails to support regenerative solutions and indigenous stewardship.
One of the most jarring aspects of AIM4C is it fails to address the safe, nature-based, and often more economical solutions that are right under our noses. Many of the past “innovations” in agriculture are the reasons for the food insecurity we now face. Crop modification patents have wiped out genetic diversity, increasing the risk of crop failure from diseases. Fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides have decimated pollinator populations and destroyed soil fertility by killing off microorganisms essential to plant growth, decreasing yields. Monocropping and soil infertility have deteriorated the nutritional quality of the food we depend on for optimal health. Animals raised for food have been modified to grow so large so quickly that not only do they suffer extreme cruelty, but the nutritional quality of their meat has decreased.
Nature-based solutions should be the pinnacle of any future-focused agricultural planning, many of which are already available. Research estimates that restoring the world’s soil biodiversity could reduce atmospheric carbon to safe levels within 10-15 years. Indigenous peoples’ stewardship has also proven essential to climate preservation and sustainable food production.
AIM4C ignores meat reduction as a climate solution.
Scientific consensus identifies reducing animal-sourced foods as critical to climate change mitigation. The livestock sector represents 14.5% of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, and cattle production is a key driver of deforestation in tropical carbon sinks. The IPCC identified near-term reduction of methane emissions—which mainly come from cattle production—as vital to curbing climate change. In 2019, the EAT Lancet Commission concluded that a 50% global reduction in red meat consumption is required to stay within health and planetary boundaries. More recently, Compassion in World Farming led a conversation at the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit calling for resizing the livestock industry and reducing meat and dairy consumption.
AIM4C was launched without public input.
AIM4C provided no opportunity for the public to participate in its development or provide comments before its launch. The initiative only allows participation from governments increasing public investment in agricultural innovation, NGOs increasing self-financed agricultural R&D, and private entities who already support AIM4C’s objectives. These barriers to entry leave out smallholder farmers, environmental justice communities, indigenous peoples, and other groups who are disproportionately impacted by factory farming and who offer key solutions.
Moreover, the initiative allocates no funding to the aforementioned groups, championing industry and private research instead of local solutions that best serve the communities who can create them. AIM4C enables corporations to use government funding to develop pricey products and push them upon producers for profit, further driving out local economies and pushing ecosystems to the brink with potentially little climate benefit.
AIM4C lacks urgency and delays action.
This year’s IPCC report signaled a “code red for humanity,” highlighting the need for immediate, decisive action. AIM4C calls for long, multi-year research that we simply don’t have time for. The solutions we need are readily available—we know how to restore soil health, reduce meat consumption, farm regeneratively, and implement indigenous knowledge. Taking time for more research is an excuse for governments and corporate giants to delay action. As climate catastrophe looms, the focus now should be to implement humane, equitable, and nature-based solutions at once.
Unfortunately, AIM for Climate is MIA when it comes to the true needs of animals and communities. It will spend billions of dollars on needless research and technologies to prop up a failing factory farming system instead of supporting swift, local, regenerative action.
Compassion in World Farming is leading the conversation on putting animals, communities, and ecosystems first at COP26. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for the latest COP26 updates.
Sign our petition calling on the USDA to commit to more regenerative, equitable, and humane solutions in AIM4C.