New Ceres Report Outlines Innovative Solutions for Companies To Reduce Agricultural Emissions

Nov 7, 2023 6:00 AM ET

November 6, 2023 /3BL/ - To support one of the highest emitting sectors in accelerating its decarbonization transition, Ceres released a new report today identifying critical ways food companies can drive agricultural innovation—both within their supply chains and sector wide—to meet ambitious climate targets outlined in their transition plans.

The report, Cultivating Innovation: Practical Solutions for Companies to Reduce Agricultural Emissions, summarizes emerging agricultural technologies, with specific examples from across the food sector of how companies, such as General Mills and Tyson, are leveraging innovation to significantly reduce the major drivers of the sector’s largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These solutions are needed for the food sector, which accounts for one-third of the world’s global GHG emissions, to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C by 2030 and avoid the worst impacts from climate change. Existing agricultural practices have been shown to mitigate around 20% of the required emissions reductions for the sector to reach that goal, making innovation pivotal to closing the gap.

"The big question companies, investors, and other stakeholders are asking is how can the food sector realistically deliver the huge emissions reductions necessary to meet their commitments and uphold global climate targets by 2030," said Meryl Richards, Acting Program Director, Food and Forests, at Ceres. "Ceres new report yields important insights into new and emerging solutions that companies can implement as part of growth and innovation strategies in their climate transition plans to address this challenge.”

Strategies to drive agricultural innovation

As Ceres highlighted in The Investor Guide to Climate Transition Plans in the U.S. Food Sector, integrating emissions reduction outcomes into a companies' forward-looking growth and innovation strategy must be a key component of effective climate transition plans. For the first time, Ceres recently benchmarked companies in its Food Emissions 50 initiative, an investor-led initiative to accelerate progress towards a 1.5°C future in the food sector, on those key components. Only nine of the 27 benchmarked Food Emissions 50 companies reported investing in climate-related research and development, and just two disclosed business-wide strategies to align growth and innovation strategies with emissions goals.

Ceres new report details two important strategies companies can implement as part of their climate transition plans to advance emerging agricultural solutions: advocacy and collaboration as well as direct company action.

Among the advocacy and collaboration strategies highlighted in the report are public research and development advocacy, public-private partnerships, and regulatory reform support, which could include participating in Ceres’ Climate-Smart Agriculture and Healthy Soil Working Group. It brings together food, beverage, and clothing companies within Ceres networks to engage in peer-to-peer learning and push for legislative and regulatory solutions to advance climate-smart agriculture practices in the U.S.

To increase the economic viability of promising emissions-reducing innovations, the report outlines several actions that companies can take in their own operations and supply chains. These include:

  • In-house R&D investment, such as General Mills and Patagonia use of a climate-friendly perennial wheat variety called Kernza in their products;
  • Market development and demand creation, such as a pre-payment offtake agreement for sourcing lower-emission commodities;
  • Pilot testing, such as Ben & Jerry’s trials of Brominata — a red seaweed feed additive that can reduce methane-producing bacteria in cow’s stomachs — to establish proof of concept and increase understanding of emerging practices and technologies;
  • Corporate venture capital, such as Tyson Foods’ investment arm, Tyson Ventures, which invests in and partners with promising innovators working across a wide range of areas, including alternative proteins and other solutions that support a more responsible food system.

“Food companies have a menu of options that they can use to accelerate the adoption and use of new and promising technologies both within their own business operations and supply chains as well as across the sector as a whole,” said Nako Kobayashi, a manager of Food Emissions 50 at Ceres and author of the report. “These innovations have the potential to help further drive down emissions in combination with existing practices known to reduce emissions, curb the demand for high emissions products such as beef, and eliminate food waste.”

New and emerging agricultural technologies and practices

Ceres report details the many promising technologies that food companies are using – and can consider driving further innovation of – to address the key drivers of agricultural GHG emissions.

The report does not prioritize the technologies or advocate for any one over the others; instead, it provides information, including potential climate benefits, trade-offs, and innovation status, that can help companies evaluate which emerging innovations to support.

Among the new innovative solutions included in the report are wearable cattle devices that capture methane exhaled by cattle; manure methane inhibitors that prevent methane production; smart enhanced-efficiency fertilizers, which improve the timing of fertilizer nutrients’ release; green ammonia to cut emissions from fertilizer manufacturing; perennial rice varieties that require less tillage, promote healthy soils, and may reduce methane emissions; and electric tractors, such as those developed by Monarch and Solectrac, to reduce emissions from on-farm energy use.

See more corporate examples of emerging agricultural technologies here.

Read Cultivating Innovation: Practical Solutions for Companies to Reduce Agricultural Emissions here.

The food sector is one of six high-emitting sectors that Ceres Ambition 2030 initiative is focused on decarbonizing to raise corporate ambition and hold companies accountable for emission reductions. Among the other sectors include banking, electric power, oil and gas, steel, and transportation.

About Ceres 

Ceres is a nonprofit organization working with the most influential capital market leaders to solve the world’s greatest sustainability challenges. Through our powerful networks and global collaborations of investors, companies, and nonprofits, we drive action and inspire equitable market-based and policy solutions throughout the economy to build a just and sustainable future. For more information, visit and follow @CeresNews.