News / USA

Agriculture Seeks Bigger Role in Climate Negotiations

Effort to control greenhouse gas emissions from farms launched

The Global Research Alliance on Agriculture and Greenhouse Gas Emissions would share information gathered from this South African community-based irrigation project
The Global Research Alliance on Agriculture and Greenhouse Gas Emissions would share information gathered from this South African community-based irrigation project
TEXT SIZE - +
Rosanne Skirble

When the world's biggest polluters gathered this past December at the U.N. Climate Summit in Copenhagen, they managed to forge a non-binding agreement that could help put the brakes on global warming. The 12-paragraph document outlines a way to move forward on climate changing emissions reductions, verification, deforestation and finance. 

Poor people in rural areas of the developing world are expected to be hardest hit by climate change. Conference goers in Copenhagen lobbied for a greater role for agriculture in the negotiations, especially the small land holder
Poor people in rural areas of the developing world are expected to be hardest hit by climate change. Conference goers in Copenhagen lobbied for a greater role for agriculture in the negotiations, especially the small land holder

The director of the U.S. Agriculture Department's Climate Change Program, Bill Hohenstein, sums up how agriculture faired. "[It was] more so than any meeting that I've been at. Not just within the rooms, but also in the corridors and in the hallways and in the side events."

The warming temperatures, increased rainfall, droughts and floods resulting from industrial emissions threaten to disrupt farming systems around the world, with developing nations expected to fare the worst. The most immediate agriculture issues brought to Copenhagen focused on food security, carbon emission curbs and farming-system adaptation in the face of climate change.

On the one hand, the sector contributes 14 percent of global warming emissions largely from crop residues, decaying manure and fertilized soils. On the other hand, farmers are faced with the dilemma of the need to increase food production as populations grow, a move that can lead to deforestation.

World Resources Institute President Jonathan Lash says among the most positive outcomes of the non-binding Copenhagen Accord was its support for REDD, an acronym for the U.N.'s Program for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. "In Copenhagen, a plus was clearly added which extends this regime also to cover reforestation, that is the other 50 percent of the land that was once forest."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in Copenhagen that U.S. dairy farmers would reduce climate changing emissions by 25 percent by 2020. Agriculture is responsible for 14 percent of global greenhouse emissions, 8 percent in the United States
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in Copenhagen that U.S. dairy farmers would reduce climate changing emissions by 25 percent by 2020. Agriculture is responsible for 14 percent of global greenhouse emissions, 8 percent in the United States

Lash says that REDD brings large deforested nations like China, India and South Africa into play. "It restores water flows, provides jobs and improves ecosystems." Lash adds degraded lands also open up the carbon trading market. Gerald Nelson, senior research fellow with the International Food Policy Research Institute says work needs to be done to ensure that agriculture is part of the trading scheme. "[We need to figure out] ways by which people who are interested in buying carbon credits can pay for activities in the developing world that can help small farmers and supports soil carbon in particular or agro-forestry practices."

Countries that signed the Copenhagen Accord are expected to submit pledges for carbon emissions reductions by the end of the January. Advocates at the meeting want agriculture to figure in the language and substance of those actions. 

Soil scientist Ron Follett examines a soil profile beneath a native grassland site near Woodward, Oklahoma, before collecting samples for soil carbon analysis. USDA will commit up to $90 million dollars to Global Research Alliance to share results from
Soil scientist Ron Follett examines a soil profile beneath a native grassland site near Woodward, Oklahoma, before collecting samples for soil carbon analysis. USDA will commit up to $90 million dollars to Global Research Alliance to share results from

Although not part of the Copenhagen Accord or negotiations, one of the biggest steps forward in Copenhagen was the announcement of the Global Research Alliance on Agriculture and Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Twenty-one nations pledged $150 million to the effort, which USDA's Bill Hohenstein says is focused on better understanding and controlling greenhouse gas emissions from farms. He says the alliance would coordinate programs and research on livestock, croplands and rice. "We would then identify countries who could help coordinate those efforts to identify the technical experts, get them together and work on the substantive priorities in terms of developing technologies and practices to reduce emissions or increase sequestration within those critical work areas."

Hohenstein says the new Alliance will help set priorities and define roles for the international research agencies, private sector and commodity groups. 

Investing in improved varieties of pearl millet and sorghum has helped to significantly reduce food security in India's arid and semi-arid tropics
Investing in improved varieties of pearl millet and sorghum has helped to significantly reduce food security in India's arid and semi-arid tropics

Gerald Nelson with the International Food Policy Research Institute says as countries work together on shared problems the results may be incorporated into future climate treaty negotiations.     

Experts say farming systems must be better managed, even as farmers take steps to adapt, as well as they can, to the earth's changing climate. The Global Research Alliance countries plan to meet in a few months to advance this agenda.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid