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Climate governance of agriculture: a case study of dairy anaerobic digesters in California's Central Valley

Authors: Elizabeth Castner*, UC Davis Geography Graduate Group
Topics: Energy, Agricultural Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: food systems, climate governance, carbon offsets, dairy, anaerobic digester
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Though agriculture and food systems currently contribute 20-30% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, global and national climate policies have largely overlooked them as sites to be governed. Agricultural policies from recent decades in New Zealand and the European Union have aimed to reduce emissions with varying degrees of success, running into the limitations of nature and limitations of economic markets. The climate governance strategy of producing offsets creates new commodities for new markets, as well as new subjects of governance. In agricultural systems, offset production may compete with commodity food production and create unforeseen effects. This poster examines a case study of climate governance and offset production under 2016 California State policy S.B. 1383, which sets reduction targets for short-lived greenhouse gas emissions resulting from industrial scale dairy production in the state’s Central Valley. The study will explore how the predominant technological fix, anaerobic digestion, is implemented by actors within the state, the dairy industry, and farmers themselves to better understand context-specific responses to state and market-based climate policy. In addition, the study will look at how the captured methane gas from anaerobic digestion projects is used and distributed to understand the connections between food, energy, and climate governance.

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