There has never been so much talk about a United Nations Conference on Climate Change as about Glasgow’s COP26. After the impacts brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, the fear of global warming has become more latent. It is necessary to act quickly: the planet has already raised its temperature by 1.09°C – and scientific projections are worrying. There is a growing consensus that the world urgently needs to move towards a low carbon economy, and the next two decades will be decisive for this.
Therefore, everyone’s attention moved to the Scottish city. The pressure of society demanding the world leaders for concrete actions was quite expressive. But the responsibility for this transformation is not restricted to the sphere of politics. The 2015 Paris Agreement also gave the productive sector an essential role in defending against the aggravation and effects of climate change. Since then, we are seeing increasingly more companies take the lead in this issue. COP26 was a significant opportunity for the private sector to present the concrete actions they are taking.
As a life sciences company operating in the health and agriculture sectors, Bayer has sought to expand the dialogue with society and construct collaborative solutions. The company is committed to being carbon neutral in its operations by 2030, using 100% of our electricity from renewable sources, and investing in intelligent transportation systems, among others. The established targets also foresee ambitious impacts for the entire agricultural sector, reducing greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture by 30% by the end of the decade.
We know that agriculture is at the center of discussions about climate change. The sector is currently one of those responsible for part of the global emissions of greenhouse gases. At the same time, farmers – on whom we depend for food and fiber supplies – are among those most affected by the impact of adverse weather conditions, such as increased pressure from pests and diseases, heavy rains, and droughts that affect their crops and livelihoods. It is already estimated that climate change could cause 17% of crop losses and reduce the arable area with a possible 20% reduction in land per capita for planting by 2050.
But agriculture can also help solve the climate crisis by reducing emissions and promoting the removal of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. To achieve this goal, Bayer is leading the global Carbon Bayer initiative, supporting farmers to adopt climate-smart farming practices on a large scale, optimizing the use of resources, the efficiency of new technologies, and digitization, which still allow increasing the yield per hectare.
As one of the leading agricultural powers on the planet, Brazil was one of the first countries to receive the initiative. Since 2020, Bayer has led collaborative, cutting-edge science and technology efforts to build a carbon ecosystem in Brazilian agriculture with farmers and partners such as Embrapa. This year, the company launched PRO Carbono for farmers, offering advantages to participants and monitoring organic matter accumulation in the participating plots over three years.
A pioneering and promising project like this one has deserved a great communication effort from the company. It is vital to present the initiative to farmers to have a deeper understanding of the climate challenges and how this relates to the viability of their business in the future and being part of the construction of a new model of carbon-neutral agriculture. Many are already seeing the project as an excellent opportunity to add more value to grain production. They envision a business model in which they are rewarded for what and how much they produce and how they make.
It is also essential to give visibility to this project to society, which is increasingly interested in knowing about sustainability in the food production chain and wants to learn about developing solutions to climate challenges. The Carbono Bayer initiative is an opportunity to expand knowledge about agriculture, bring a new connection between the countryside and the city, and improve the sector’s reputation.
Furthermore, it is a relevant topic for the Brazilian economy. Establishing a global carbon market will open up a new sphere of business possibilities, especially for the Brazilian offset sector, which promotes emission offsetting mechanisms. Brazil has the opportunity to resume its historic role in climate discussions and reach a new level of economic development based on carbon-neutral infrastructure and business.
Therefore, Bayer has been promoting the carbon agenda in agriculture on several fronts, such as public relations involving the specialized agricultural media, as well as vehicles for society and the availability of expert spokespersons for interviews; active participation in discussions in industry associations and business forums, such as the Brazilian Agribusiness Association (Abag), the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEBDS) and the Climate, Forests, and Agriculture Coalition; engagement of leaders and executives in events, panels, and live sessions to discuss the topic, including within the COP26 itself; support for an unprecedented study on opportunities for Brazil in carbon markets, developed by ICC Brasil in partnership with WayCarbon.
It is a robust work with stakeholders, mobilizing several areas within Bayer. It has started well before COP26 and will continue, as the challenges are significant and the journey is still in its infancy. And that has a central axis in the performance of communication, helping to connect all these fronts within a robust narrative, with evidence, facts, and data – essential at a time when society calls for concrete examples and rejects the “blah-blah-blah” of evasive rhetoric, as the activist Greta Thunberg emphasized.
There is a valuable opportunity to move forward with implementing a global carbon market and make agro part of the solution to climate problems. We have an essential job to build an environmental, social, and economic legacy for everyone and generations to come.