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No Idle Threat to the Marginalised

Since this article was written, the focus on using so-called “marginal” or “idle” land for agrofuel production has continued and intensified. The EU currently offers a bonus for agrofuel production on “degraded” land and has consulted on extending this bonus to “idle” land. The article examines some of the issues behind this push and what it means for indigenous and local communities, who may not be recognised as land-users, but who may actually be protecting and enhancing biodiversity vital to food supplies on the land they use.

The carbon market dream: millions of offsets from land-use “sinks”

Carbon traders and high emitting Parties would like all land-use to count as carbon sinks to offset sources, delay reducing emissions and make money for carbon markets. There is more than one route to this goal: REDD++ could be one way, and CDM in LULUCF is another, as we shall see. Parties could also be enabled to use every current and future market-based mechanism to meet their reduction commitments. This briefing provides background to these key issues for Cancun.

1. A massive extension of the CDM is proposed

Carbon markets – A distraction from the real priority: immediate emission reductions

In discussions about climate, market interests are of course focused on finance and how the market can participate. In this context, market interests include not just carbon markets, but also land and commodity markets, mining, timber and paper, that hope to profit from offsets. There is a real risk that their increased participation could give market mechanisms, traders and investors more power over development and also over land than developing countries and their peoples.

Land-use, Bioenergy and Agro-biotechnology

Carbon - The New Cash Crop

Following Copenhagen the message is clear: if we do not act swiftly, industrial agriculture could soon claim large rewards from carbon trading by being recognized as a carbon sink. We know that climate change has the potential to irreversibly damage the natural resource base on which agriculture depends. But we also know that industrial agriculture is a major cause of climate change, so how can rewarding it with carbon credits help reduce its climate impacts?
The Land Magazine:


... still to come ...

Agriculture and soils in carbon trading

Including soil carbon sequestration in a Copenhagen agreement may provide opportunities for commercialization and profit, but should not be confused with proven strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, building resilient food systems and empowering rural communities.

Agriculture and Climate Change - Real Problems, False Solutions

Few would deny that agriculture is especially severely affected by climate change and that the right practices contribute to mitigate it, yet expectations of the new climate agreement diverge sharply, as well as notions on what are good and what are bad agricultural practices and whether soil carbon sequestration should be part of carbon trading.

Ecosystems ...

Biodiversity is not just about numbers of varieties, but the web of interactions on which functioning ecosystems depend and about which we still know very little. It is an important - but not the only - part of the larger concept of ecosystems. On a planet under pressure from ecosystem modification and destruction, climate change and human expansion, biodiversity is ever more vital and ever more under threat. An increase demand for agricultural land to produce agrofuels or carbon sinks directly and indirectly increases the destruction of natural ecosystems. At the same time, agricultural biodiversity is getting lost worldwide through the introdcution of industrialized agricultural systems.
... and Rio conventions
The fate of biodiversity and ecosystems is not only decided out 'in the wild', but significantly in conference rooms. EcoNexus therefore works on issues by participating in the meetings of the CBD and the UNFCCC as well through the relationship between these two crucial conventions.

Super organisms for bioeconomy ...

The goal of Synthetic Biology and its proponents like Craig Venter are novel organisms for specific purposes, constructed like a machine in which desirable characteristics are added and undesirable 'components' are excluded. However, unlike machines they can reproduce and adapt in unpredictable ways in order to survive. At present synthetic biology is more speculation than reality, but especially the development of organisms for bioeconomy and agrofuel production, brings several topics together on which EcoNexus works, such as in the report Agriculture and Climate Change.
... or unregulated cottage industry?
The powerful interests involved in Synthetic Biology and its aspired use in economically important areas, require a close monitoring of its developments. Otherwise, we might find that commercial interests will drive it before decisions can be made about how to regulate them, their potential effects and further reaching consequences.
But even then synthetic biology will be difficult to regulate since rapidly reducing prices for basic technologies make resources easily available. This opens a completely different area of concerns, for example whe it becomes possible to build pathogens in simple labs that have already been dubbed garage synbio.


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