St. Louis-based Monsanto is joining 80 other U.S. companies in pledging to back a White House campaign to build support for climate talks this December in Paris, France, where the Obama administration says it hopes to see a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Monsanto is pursuing a 25 percent increase in water use efficiency at its seed testing facilities by 2020. Director of Environmental Strategies for Agriculture Michael Lohuis, said that, depending on the weather at its facilities, that “could be up to a savings of 80 billion gallons of water, the equivalent of about 110,000 Olympic-size swimming pools.”
The company is also addressing deforestation with “advanced seeds and precise management tools” to help farmers make more efficient use of nutrients. “So, if you’re using land more efficiently, that means you’re preserving forests elsewhere in the world, and that prevents deforestation, which is a huge savings in greenhouse gas emissions,” Lohuis told St. Louis Public Radio.
He says their seeds and farming practices are in use on more than 1 million acres across the United States.
Renewed national effort
With little more than a year left in office, the White House is pushing hard, both at the administrative level and internationally, to leave a legacy of combating climate change. Executive branch agencies have finalized several expansive regulations strengthening the government’s reach over a wide range of environmental laws.
A White House statement said the pledges include “ambitious, company-specific goals” including:
- Reducing emissions by as much as 50 percent
- Reducing water usage by as much as 80 percent
- Achieving zero waste-to-landfill
- Purchasing 100 percent renewable energy
- Pursuing zero net deforestation in supply chains
The Administration's goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 30 percent over the next 10 years, but the new rules are also facing significant and bipartisan opposition in Congress as well as from industry and in some cases even environmental organizations.
The EPA’s recently released standard on reducing “ground level ozone,” better known as smog, was roundly criticized by environmental groups that said the administration was falling short of even the standards recommended by the agency’s own scientific advisory board. Business and industry groups attacked the plan as being unnecessary, costly and relying on “unproven” technology.
Lawsuits challenging many of the new rules could linger in the courts long after the Obama administration leaves office in January 2017.