Climate COP17 Durban

Why we should continue to oppose the inclusion of agriculture in the climate negotiations

February 2012

Helena Paul

The World Bank is pushing hard to extend the life of carbon markets. It sees agriculture as an essential part of the strategy. That is just one reason why we should continue to oppose the inclusion of agriculture in the climate negotiations. For those who are accredited to the Climate Convention, the deadline to respond regarding a programme on agriculture is 5th March.
For all of us it's important to understand clearly what is behind all the talk of "climate-smart" agriculture and "sustainable intensification".

Arguments against a proposed programme of work on agriculture under the UNFCCC’s scientific advice committee (SBSTA)

Helena Paul

December 2011

An agriculture work programme may sound attractive to those who are concerned about issues like:

  • Agriculture emissions increase climate change – and agriculture is profoundly affected by climate change
  • Agriculture has a severe impact on forests
  • Soils can store a great deal of carbon - but does that mean there should be a soil carbon market?

Others cite the need to support peasants, “smallholder farmers”, local production and food sovereignty. They want a programme of work on agriculture on condition that such issues are prioritised and that the programme addresses adaptation equally with mitigation.
Several Parties and international institutions advocate an agriculture work programme with the aim of using agriculture and soil carbon to offset emissions. The aim is to link agriculture and REDD+ under the title of climate-smart agriculture and apply the “integrated landscape approach”. This could lead to every aspect of agriculture, indeed the whole landscape, being measured in terms of carbon, even though there are serious scientific questions about the validity, let alone the possibility, of this approach.

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