Powering Development and Sustainability: Productive Use of Renewable Energy (PURE) in the Agri-Food Systems

Time: 12:30-13:30 (CET)

Lead organizer: Power for All 

Co-organizers: IRENA Coalition for Action / Global Solar Council / FAO / National Solar Energy Federation of India

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Globally, fossil fuels provide about 70-80% of the energy used in agri-food systems (FAO). In terms of the consumption of energy, food systems are a major source of demand as they account for 30% of all energy consumed in the world (IRENA and FAO). Most consumption (70%) takes place in post-harvest stages such as transportation, processing, packaging, shipping, storage, marketing, etc., and is driven by high-income countries (FAO). The over-reliance on fossil fuels to power the food systems has severe environmental implications. In 2019 global agri-food system emissions were 16.5 billion metric tonnes, corresponding to 31% (range: 19 %–43 %) of global GHG emissions for that year. The use of energy contributed to about one-third of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from food systems. 

In Africa and India’s context, most of these emissions are predominantly due to the increased use of diesel and other fossil fuels in pre-harvest and post-harvest activities. Agriculture is currently a large contributor to climate change as well as one of the economic sectors most at risk from it. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Productive Use of Renewable Energy (PURE) can support Africa’s agriculture to become a low emission- climate resilient food system, Africa’s agriculture sector can transition away from being a major emitter to becoming a carbon sink that takes carbon out of the atmosphere and stores it in soil and biomass. Renewable energy sources like solar power can greatly benefit the agribusiness sector. Solar water pumps can provide a sustainable solution for irrigation in remote areas, reducing the reliance on fossil fuel-based generators. Solar-powered cold storage facilities, for instance, can help reduce post-harvest losses by maintaining optimal temperatures for agricultural production. These facilities can be easily deployed in remote areas with limited access to electricity, providing a sustainable and cost-effective solution for preserving production. Additionally, solar-powered cold storage can help maintain the quality and nutritional value of food, leading to improved marketability and higher income for farmers. 

This event will aim to reinvigorate the global discussions around the potential of renewable energy in enhancing agricultural productivity, reducing post-harvest losses, and boosting rural incomes while addressing GHG and climate change. The UNEP Cool Coalition along with the UAE delegation will be giving an overview of the Global Cooling Pledge and its importance in Food Systems.


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