Harnessing the Power of Agriculture to Fight Climate Change

May 24, 2019

Just recently, Manitoba Liberals released our Climate Plan for Green Growth and Renewal in Manitoba and agriculture plays an incredibly important role.

No one knows better than farmers the need for stewardship of the land. When it comes to climate change, we recognize the special place agricultural producers find themselves in. Unless we act now, farmers will face major costs due to climate change-deeper droughts, flash floods, and new pests and diseases. At the same time, farmers and agriculture also face costs in addressing climate change.

We have set out a plan that is bold in ambition while staying realistic and achievable. By working with others, harnessing the power of agriculture to make a tremendous impact in fighting the climate crisis and quickly improving the environment.

The first step of our plan is to take back control and renegotiate with Ottawa so that the Manitoba Government can choose what's best for Manitobans. The only reason we've got Ottawa's plan is because the Premier ripped up his own plan.

Our basic plan is straightforward: reduce emissions based on fossil fuels by developing green fuels instead, while also using nature and technology to draw down excess CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in new wilderness and in the soil.

While pushing as hard as we can for change, Manitoba Liberals want to be realistic. There are over 1-million cars, trucks and machines in Manitoba that run on gas or diesel. The problem is not the technology - it is the fuel.

That is why we want to make Manitoba a leader in clean energy-including synthetic, carbon neutral fuels. There is incredible technology that already exists in Germany that converts organic waste and hydrogen into synthetic natural gas, diesel and gasoline.

Manitoba is an ideal place to set up these plants, powered by excess hydro, solar and wind, to make carbon-neutral and carbon-tax-free-fuels. Our goal is to produce fuels that can be mixed and used straight from the pump. A homegrown Manitoba company, HD-Petroleum, has developed a micro refinery in rural Manitoba that converts waste oil into a high-quality diesel fuel. This would reduce new emissions while reducing costs for producers.

The other major strategy is to draw down CO2. This includes paying producers for providing environmental services that help store carbon. Sometimes called "carbon farming" this includes incentives for regenerative agriculture techniques, planting trees, shrubs, and windbreaks together with soil and wetlands management. These practises not only store carbon, they can enrich and improve soil health and increase yields.

Nitrous Oxide, a GHG with approximately 300 times more greenhouse warming potential (GWP) than carbon dioxide harms the ability to produce sustainable crop yields. Nitrous oxide contributes to about half the warming effect of agricultural emissions while making up 15 percent of Manitoba's Greenhouse gas emissions. We will work with farmers to develop a plan to improve nitrogen management. Small improvements in NO2 emissions make huge differences. Reducing nitrous oxide outputs by one third by 2025 and by two thirds by 2030 will achieve a reduction of total greenhouse gas emissions in Manitoba by 2000 kilotons, or 10%, of current greenhouse gas production by 2030.

Farmers know that we rely on a healthy environment for a healthy economy. Manitoba Liberals know that we get more done when we work together. We want to leave Manitoba in a better state than we found it.

The Manitoba Liberal Plan for Green Growth & Renewal is a blueprint for how to make it a reality.


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