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A pathway to clean, resilient agriculture in Metro Vancouver

Agriculture plays a distinct and important role in our region by helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and providing ecosystem services. This includes supporting clean air and water, while protecting urban areas from flooding.

Agriculture itself is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events including atmospheric rivers and heat domes. Shifting to renewable sources of energy, adjusting farm-management practices, and supporting new technologies will go a long way toward ensuring the long-term sustainability of local food production and shaping Metro Vancouver’s low-carbon future.​

Looking for more de​tail on ou​​r agriculture-related strategies?

Download the Climate 2050 Agriculture Roadmap​​​​​

​​Our vision for net-zero, resilient agriculture

By 2050, agriculture in Metro Vancouver will be carbon neutral and resilient to the impacts of climate change. Greenhouses, farm vehicles, and equipment will run on clean, renewable energy. Regenerative farming practices will build up the soil and its carbon-storage capacity. Changes to livestock diets and fertilizer use will reduce emissions, and new crops (like salt-tolerant species) will withstand climate hazards including sea-level rise. Innovative technologies will improve farms’ energy efficiency and help growers adapt to extreme weather. And as the sector itself becomes more resilient, agricultural lands will play a key role in supporting the resiliency of the wider region – by managing floods, filtering water, capturing carbon, and providing habit for pollinators and other wildlife.

Our commitment: A region that is both carbon-neutral and resilient to the changing climate by 2050.

What does it mean to be net zero?​​
When our agriculture sector is net zero, any greenhouse gases produced – methane from cattle, for example – will be offset by the emissions removed by soil, crops, and carbon-capture tec​hnologies.​

Our agricultural sector is vulnerable to the changing climate

Accounting for approximately 20 per cent of the region’s land, Metro Vancouver agriculture provides more than 12,000 farm jobs, adds $1.3 billion to the GDP, and supplies residents with healthy, fresh food.

Agriculture plays a crucial role in our fight against climate change but the sector also produces a portion (about four per cent) of the region’s greenhouse gases. This is largely through fossil fuel use in greenhouses, methane from cattle, and emissions from fertilizer and manure. Because agriculture relies on predictable growing conditions, healthy ecosystems, and is immediately impacted by extreme weather events, it is also especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

To achieve our target of a net-zero and resilient agricultural sector, we need to shift away from fossil fuels, build up our soil health, and embrace new technologies and nature-based solutions that will allow us to reduce our emissions and adapt to extreme weather.​​


Activities and factors contributing to primary and secondary particulate matter emissions in agriculture:

  • Wind erosion
  • Crop harvest and grain handling
  • Pollen from corn
  • Animal feeding operation
  • Land preparation
  • Agrochemical and manure application
  • Reside burning and animal cremation
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Addressing climate change is a two-part process

Reducing greenhouse gases with clean, renewable fuels, energy-efficient greenhouses and equipment, and better management of fertilizer, manure, and livestock.

Reducing greenhouse gases with clean, renewable fuels, energy-efficient greenhouses and equipment, and better management of fertilizer, manure, and livestock.

Adapting to the irreversible effects of climate change with diverse crops and regenerative farming practices that improve soil health.

Adapting to the irreversible effects of climate change with diverse crops and regenerative farming practices that improve soil health.

Expected climate change impacts​

Expected Climate Change Impacts

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Agriculture is especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Higher temperatures threaten livestock and crops and encourage pests and disease. Drought puts pressure on irrigation, while extreme rainfall erodes the soil and reduces its nutrients. Additionally, because much of the region’s farmland is in low-lying areas, it is susceptible to salt-water damage and loss of cropland, which has increased from sea-level rise. ​​​

Why is healthy soil so important?

Healthy soil is the backbone of a resilient agricultural sector. When soil is healthy, it is better able to retain and filter water, absorbs more during floods and is more resistant to invasive species. Crops planted in healthy soil need less fertilizer – and less fertilizer means lower emissions. Plants in healthy soil develop deeper roots, so they are able to hold on to more carbon.

Our goals for net-zero, resilient a​griculture by 2050

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GOAL 1: By 2050, the agricultural sector will be carbon neutral and maximize carbon sequestration.GOAL 1: By 2050, the agricultural sector will be carbon neutral and maximize carbon sequestration.<div class="ExternalClass797E748E7B0F45CDAEBB6AFA35DC85A5"> <p> <strong>Our target for 2030:</strong></p><ul><li>35% reduction in emissions relative to 2010</li></ul><p>​<strong>​Our target for 2050:</strong></p><ul><li>The sector is carbon neutral<br></li></ul> </div>
GOAL 2: By 2050, agricultural operations will be powered by clean, renewable energy and use best-available management practices and technologies to minimize emissions.GOAL 2: By 2050, agricultural operations will be powered by clean, renewable energy and use best-available management practices and technologies to minimize emissions.<div class="ExternalClass3A7509A03C4742FDBE1EC175D10B5F7B"><p>​<strong>Our target for 2030:</strong></p><ul><li>35% reduction in emissions relative to 2010<br></li></ul></div>


​These 4 strategies are helping us reach our goals:



1. Protecting agricultural land.1. Protecting agricultural land.<div class="ExternalClassEB718A100D7F4D00AE6E9D5D5EB54EC9"><p>Metro Vancouver is identifying how to strengthen regional land-use policy to reduce urban encroachment into agricultural and rural areas.​<br></p></div>
2. Supporting farmers as climate action leaders.2. Supporting farmers as climate action leaders.<div class="ExternalClass600787A9A9794F8AB71444A342A2D32B"><p>Potential reduction in greenhouse gases each year:</p><ul><li>By 2030: 100,000 tonnes</li></ul><p>Metro Vancouver is supporting BC Government and industry efforts to find ways to reduce emissions from agricultural operations, including greenhouses, by updating the regional agricultural emissions inventory and developing a self-assessment tool that can be used to calculate emissions from a specific source.​​</p></div>
3. Supporting long-term farm health and resilience.3. Supporting long-term farm health and resilience.<div class="ExternalClassDEE77BDDA1A34931A50CA7AD0FB5C3B0"><p>We are working with the BC Government to explore ways to offer long-term funding to farms that provide ecosystem services, like pollinator habitat and flood management. Additionally, we are also working with the BC Government to update the water demand model and provide information sharing opportunities with local government to discuss water availability for the agricultural community. Along with input from partners, we are reviewing and assessing options to align the ongoing ecosystem services on agricultural land work with the establishment of a Regional Green Infrastructure Network.</p></div>
4. Supporting a viable, profitable, and stable agricultural sector.4. Supporting a viable, profitable, and stable agricultural sector.<div class="ExternalClass2E279279EFD949DF86C1CDBEF8BFF7DD"><p>Metro Vancouver is working with the provincial and federal governments to support long-term, consistent and reliable funding for agricultural producers to advance the resilience of farming operations. We are also working on connecting consumers more closely with the realities and challenges of producing food in the Metro Vancouver region, particularly through the update to the Regional Food System Strategy.​<br></p></div>


Real-life solutions that work

High-tech greenhouses
High-tech greenhouses

Heated by fossil fuels, greenhouses are a source of greenhouse emissions. Hydrogen and other innovative sources of energy may offer a feasible solution in the near future. Manure digesters, for example, can convert livestock waste into biogas to provide heat and power. New carbon-capture technologies allow greenhouses to trap agricultural emissions and reuse them as fuel.

New fertilizing technologies
New fertilizing technologies

Farmers typically apply GHG-emitting chemical fertilizers (known as “inputs”) to entire fields, a practice that does not address the needs of individual plants. New input application methods can minimize the amount of fertilizer used and the amount of emissions that result. Slow-release fertilizers, for instance, mean fewer applications, while field-mapping by drones allows nutrients to be precisely applied only to those parts of the crop that need them.

Regenerative agriculture

Back-to-nature regenerative agriculture practices help rebuild healthy soil, reduce emissions, and make farmland more resilient to climate change. For example, planting in fields that would normally sit unused after harvest (“cover cropping”) reduces erosion while increasing soil’s water retention and biodiversity. Using no-till farming and applying less fossil-fuel-based pesticide and fertilizer means a decrease in emissions and an increase in helpful soil microorganisms. Allowing livestock to roam and graze improves soil fertility and clears the brush that can feed wildfires. Planting shrubs and trees protects fields from wind and flooding while providing habitat for pollinators.

Six core principles of regenerative agriculture

​​​​​​​What ca​​​​n I do?​

While reaching our goals will require a number of large structural changes –there are also things that we can do on an individual level every day to help. A practical first step? Eat more local food, whether by planting a few vegetables, shopping the farmer’s market, or simply taking note of where the food in your grocery store comes from. Once you’ve stocked your fridge, try to use up what you have. You’ll help reduce the emissions that are generated by the massive amount of food that’s wasted each year. and You’ll save money, too – about $1,300 per year on average.​

Preventing food waste = reducing our carbon footprint​​
Wasting food means we are wasting the resources used to grow, produce, and distribute that food to consumers. Getting food from farm to table, and then managing or disposing of food as waste, also has a significant carbon footprint – contributing to Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Canada’s 2.3 million tonnes of avoidable household food waste is equivalent to 6.9 million tonnes of CO2 and 2.1 million cars on the road! Diverting food waste to composting is better than sending it to a landfill, but preventing food from being wasted in the first place is an even better way to lessen our impact on the environment. Every tonne of household food waste that is avoided is the equivalent of taking one car off the road each year.​​​

​Clean, resilient agriculture benefits everyone

We know that implementing the necessary changes will require determination, financial investment, collaboration, and a focus on social equity. Metro Vancouver is committed to ensuring that the results will benefit us all.

When our agriculture sector runs on clean energy and minimizes its emissions from livestock and fertilizers, and when consumers chose local food first over imported food, we will reduce our region’s contribution to climate change and improve our air quality and individual well-being. As we shift to regenerative agricultural practices, our soil’s health and its carbon-storage power will be boosted.

As we continue to protect land from urban uses and our farmland becomes more resilient, food security will improve, helping protect the wider region from the increased hazards due to climate change including flooding and wildfires.

Metro Vancouver’s C​​limate 2050 strategy brings local context to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development goals ​which are intended to meet the needs of the present without compromising those of future generations. This Agriculture Roadmap aligns with the UN’s 2nd and 11th goals about achieving food security and promoting sustainable agriculture, while making all human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.​​

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Agriculture is one of Metro Vancouver’s ten Climate 2050 priorities



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 Related links



Clean Air Plan, Clean Air PlanClean Air Plan
Metro 2050 Regional Growth Strategy, Metro 2050 Regional Growth StrategyMetro 2050 Regional Growth Strategy
Regional Food System Strategy, Regional Food System StrategyRegional Food System Strategy
Food Flows in Metro Vancouver, Food Flows in Metro VancouverFood Flows in Metro Vancouver


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