A new study has shown that agroecological farming, such as organic, can make a major contribution towards keeping global warming below 2°C.

The report from French think-tank IDDRI looks at how climate mitigation strategies often rely on intensifying food production, proposing to increase yields to free up land for afforestation and bioenergy. But it warns that this requires high use of pesticides and synthetic fertilisers, which risks damaging soil health and biodiversity. It also potentially undermines the capacity of European farming to adapt to climate change.

The report demonstrates that there is a viable alternative - an agroecological approach using environmentally friendly methods first, and inputs like pesticides as a last resort.

It sets out how agroecological farming can make a huge contribution towards keeping global warming below 2°C, with a 47 percent reduction in agricultural greenhouse gas emissions alongside benefits for biodiversity, conservation and human health.

This study follows IDDRI’s Ten Years for Agroecology in Europe study, published in the UK earlier this year, which concluded sustainable farming is capable of feeding a growing European population.

Rob Percival, head of policy for food and health at the Soil Association said: “Agroecological farming, including organic, offers our best hope of responding to climate change. We urgently need to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, but we must also protect soil health, nurture biodiversity, and build resilience into agricultural systems.

"Pesticide-hungry ‘intensification’ offers a false solution. The UK Government must prioritise agroecology within the Agriculture Bill and ensure farmers are adequately supported to transition to more climate resilient systems. As the climate protests this week are highlighting, we’re running out of time.”

Read the report