The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), together with the International Energy Agency (IEA), have developed a methodology to help countries and investors track climate technology trends and uptake.

The step-by-step approach in a new guide, Adoption of climate technologies in the agrifood sector, helps decision-makers in assessing the market penetration of diverse climate technologies, as well as relevant policy and investment opportunities.

“Better data collection and analysis in this area will help us make smarter investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy and climate resilience,” says Gianpiero Nacci, associate director of the EBRD’s energy efficiency and climate change team.

“It will also help countries attract climate finance to advance their climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.”

Food production and supply chains consume nearly a third of global energy as well as emit almost a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gases.

The adoption of climate-smart technologies and practices along these value chains aims to help minimise carbon emissions and improve productivity to make better use of the earth’s natural resources.

“The world’s population is growing, diets are changing, competition over natural resources is rising and the weather is increasingly unpredictable. It’s imperative we find sustainable ways to produce more food using less water, land and energy,” says Martin Frick, director of FAO’s climate, energy and tenure division.

“The transfer of green technologies at all levels, from small-scale farmers to large food-processing companies, is key to building resilient food and agriculture systems better adapted to our changing climate.”

Systematic approach

While it is relatively easy to collect and assess data on climate technology trends and adoption for the energy and transport industries, such data for the agrifood sector is virtually non-existent, says the EBRD. This led to development of the four-step methodology looking specifically at agricultural production and food processing.

The EBRD and FAO first applied the methodology in Morocco. The plan now is to roll out the approach in Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic, and eventually in other countries.

Ideally, countries will apply the methodology regularly, as much can change over time – from local country contexts and markets, to international priorities, investor interests and policy.

“With this work, we’re trying to look long term and focus on what the social, economic and environmental issues preventing climate technology adoption are now and could be later,” says Alessandro Flammini, an FAO natural resources officer and one of the publication’s co-authors.

“If you look at solar pumping today, for example, compared with 10 years ago, the picture is completely different. Now that a critical mass is using solar pumping, and the technology has become competitive and largely available, there’s the threat of excessive groundwater use, which was not an issue before. This hinders sustainable adoption. So you have to look at the bigger picture and make sure support to clean technology doesn’t lead to unintended negative consequences.”

As more countries improve their data collection on emissions and market penetration for climate technologies, it could facilitate cross-country comparisons, enhancing the scope for regional and international co-operation on climate change action.