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Trump agenda puts U.S. agriculture at trillion dollar risk

By Karen Graham     May 2, 2018 in Politics
Four of the world's largest food companies have publicly called on the Trump administration to rethink its hostility to U.S. climate policy, warning that without new measures the country's agricultural system is at severe risk from weather extremes.
Nestle, Unilever, Danone, and Mars last week published a joint letter to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as it continues to review how to roll back the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan.
In the letter, the companies warn that without new measures the country's food system risks facing "more destructive, unpredictable weather" that could present a multi-trillion dollar threat to the economy.
Scott Pruitt signing the proposal that would begin the lengthy legal process of rolling back the Cle...
Scott Pruitt signing the proposal that would begin the lengthy legal process of rolling back the Clean Power Plan rules enacted under president Obama.
Scott Pruitt - EPA
Clean Power Plan in limbo
As it is now, Scott Pruitt's EPA has been working on a proposal to either axe or repeal the Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units (EGUs), commonly referred to as the Clean Power Plan (CPP) that was introduced on October 23, 2015.
The CPP was and is critical to the U.S. meeting its emissions targets submitted under the Paris Agreement and commanded widespread support from across the business community. However, Republicans and some industry groups vigorously opposed the plan. This resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court issuing a stay to prevent the CPP from taking effect.
With President Donald Trump threatening to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, and the administration's retreat from the legal, scientific and moral obligation to address the threats of climate change, Nestle, Unilever, Danone, and Mars, in one of the most outspoken interventions to date, put up a staunch defense in favor of the CPP.
In addition to suffering from a long drought  Central California is depleting its underground aquife...
In addition to suffering from a long drought, Central California is depleting its underground aquifers.
Columbia University
The global food industry and climate policy
"The global food system is under pressure like never before," the letter states. "As major food manufacturers, we recognize that climate change is bad for farmers, agriculture, business, and consumers. Drought, flooding and hotter growing conditions threaten the world's food supply and contribute to food insecurity."
"The food industry has made a number of commitments to support the global effort to address climate change, but it is clear we need global and national policies that drive the systemic change necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with what the science says is necessary."
To that end, the letter says the administration should "either maintain the Clean Power Plan and its goal to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector by 32 percent by 2030 (from 2005 levels) or find an alternative of equal or greater impact that would ensure that the United States meets our international commitments to reduce greenhouse gases".
The letter goes on to innumerate the many ways the global food industry has been addressing climate change, including working to digitally transform their business operations so their companies and supply chains use energy efficiently. This includes embracing renewable energy solutions through the whole supply line.
El Nino  a global weather pattern that periodically wreaks havoc  is expected to last until early 20...
El Nino, a global weather pattern that periodically wreaks havoc, is expected to last until early 2016, leaving some parts of the world in drought and bringing heavy rains and flooding to others
Peter Parks, AFP/File
Global food companies are also working to better manage soils, thereby increasing carbon sequestration, and reclaiming degraded land, as well as "supporting farmers through education and resources for effective use of water and building healthier soils;"
The letter further states that "The costs of renewables and natural gas are decreasing and energy efficiency is improving. This is good news, but we need a clear policy to continue the pace of change that is needed." Whether Scott Pruitt will be moved by the companies' arguments is anyone's guess, but the letter also has a final and stark warning.
"For the United States alone, credible estimates from GAO, FEMA and others are that without action, potential risks to the United States economy are in the trillions of dollar range."
More about US agriculture, Epa, clean power plan, Trillion dollars, US climate policy