Crisis opportunism in agriculture: the cynical push for soil carbon markets instead of adaptation

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Farmers in Ethiopia need to focus on adaptation to deal with climate change

[Doha, Qatar, UN Climate negotiations] Rich countries are failing to take action or support developing countries to adapt their agriculture in the face of escalating climate change, say African negotiators and climate activists at the UN climate negotiations in Doha this week.  They are accused of delaying their own action, while promoting agricultural carbon markets that will only increase hunger and vulnerability to climate change.

“African negotiators are throwing their hands up in despair, and asking why they should even bother coming to the negotiations, if the developed countries continue to wring more demands from us in return for no money or commitments,” says Seyni Nafo, a delegate from Mali.  “This cynicism is at its most stark in the agriculture negotiations.”

“The stubbornness and inertia at this climate change conference is utterly shocking when we hear report after report confirming that we are on a trajectory for catastrophic global temperature rises of 4 degrees centigrade or more,” says Harjeet Singh of Action Aid International.  “Developing countries, who have done the least to contribute to the problem of climate change, are going to be the most severely affected.  We urgently need the UNFCCC to enable agriculture to adapt to the changes in climate that we all know are coming – or the developing world will not be able to eat.”  Negotiations on agriculture ended inconclusively on Friday, with a stand-off between African countries requesting a focus on adaptation, and developed countries’ emphasis on mitigation in order to open up agricultural carbon markets.

“Finance for adaptation is a key demand of developing countries here at the climate negotiations,” says Dr Doreen Stabinsky, professor of Global Environmental Politics at the College of the Atlantic. “Without adaptation, global food production is likely to suffer losses of 14 to 30% in the 3 major crops of spring wheat, maize and soy.  But the terrifying news is, that even if action on adaptation is taken soon, there are still going to be unavoidable and inevitable losses of between 4 and 26% In these crops.  This is why developing countries are calling for an international mechanism to address the Loss and Damage that result from insufficient mitigation and limits to adaptation.”

“We know that reviving seed diversity is one of the most proven and effective methods of ensuring farmers have the resources to deal with the multiple challenges of climate change.” Says Teresa Anderson of the Gaia Foundation, the UK partner of the African Biodiversity Network.  “But developed countries are withholding their promised finance  to follow this urgent pathway.  Instead they are pushing the false promise of failing carbon markets, even though the price of carbon is below €1 per ton.  Soil carbon markets are likely to cost more to set up and run than they will ever generate.  Furthermore, they are likely to undermine farmers’ resilience and adaptation to climate change, by incentivising carbon land grabs and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).”

Contact:

– Teresa Anderson, the Gaia Foundation,

Teresa@gaianet.org. Tel in Doha: (+974) 335 95260

For more information:

-Clear as Mud: Why agriculture and soils should not be included in carbon offset schemes (Briefing from the Gaia Foundation,

http://www.gaiafoundation.org/sites/default/files/documents/Clearasmud.pdf )

– The CDM in Africa: marketing a new land grab (Report from the Gaia Foundation, http://www.africanbiodiversity.org/system/files/PDFs/CDM%20Report_Feb2011_lowres.pdf )

– Agriculture: Equitable and ambitious solutions (Climate Justice Brief,

http://climate-justice.info/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Equity-and-Ambition-in-Agriculture.pdf  )

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About teresagaia

Teresa Anderson is the International Advocacy Officer for the Gaia Foundation and the African Biodiversity Network.
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