News / Africa

New Initiative Aims to Meet Food and Climate Change Concerns

The Global Research Alliance on Agriculture and Greenhouse Gas Emissions will share information gathered from this South African community-based irrigation project
The Global Research Alliance on Agriculture and Greenhouse Gas Emissions will share information gathered from this South African community-based irrigation project

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

Boosting agriculture, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the goal of the new Global Research Alliance, which was unveiled Friday in Rome.

The idea was spearheaded by New Zealand after the 2009 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Among those supporting the alliance are the United States, Britain, China and South Africa.

“We’re bringing together two big ideas here. The world’s got to produce a whole truckload of more food in the next 30 years to feed three billion more people that are going to be on the planet…. And we’ve got to try and reduce the emissions intensity of that,” said Tim Groser, New Zealand’s minister of trade, who’s also responsible for the country’s climate change negotiations.

Polluting crops?

“A whole lot of emissions come out of growing food. In the world, there are about as much emissions come out of growing food as come out of every truck on the planet, every car, every plane, every boat, every train. So, we’ve got to try to reduce that because food is not an option. And we think we can do this, but we’ve got to bring to bear some of the world’s finest scientific minds,” he said.

New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser
New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser

The alliance is a network, he said, that’s bring launched politically at the Rome ceremony. It will aim to expand current know-how, while developing new methods and technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.

“The brains do exist around the planet. The know-how does exist in some areas, but we need some breakthrough technologies,” said the New Zealand trade minister.

Looking for an answer

“I know in my own country, where we’re sort of specialists in livestock, that we’ve seen a huge variance in the amount of emissions going into the atmosphere from our livestock. Same cattle, same sheep, whatever, same feeds, same management. We know somewhere the answer lies in the microbiology inside the animal, the rumen, and we’ve got to try to decode that with modern science,” he said.

Groser believes there could be scientific breakthroughs within 10 years.

New Zealand took the lead in forming the alliance, but others have been quick to lend support. He said developed countries cannot be the only ones dealing with climate change.

“That cannot be the way forward,” he said. “Let me make that very clear…. Out of all the developed countries in the world, New Zealand had this unique issue in that half of our emissions come from agriculture. That’s really more typical of developing countries than developed countries. So, out of our own problem we scratched our heads and thought, look, we can’t do this alone. This is actually not just a New Zealand problem. This is a global problem.”

The Global Research Alliance has initial support from 36 countries.

“I am just amazed at how quickly this international initiative has come together,” he said. He praises U.S. agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack for his strong backing of the alliance and said the support of China and Brazil is “hugely important.”

Paying for the research

Funding is voluntary. For example, the U.S. is contributing $90 million dollars with New Zealand and Canada about $40 million.

“It’s not really an international organization. Think of it more as a 21st Century network. People put the money on the table,” he said.

The alliance has not set a deadline for solving climate change concerns.

“I think if you try and look at the response of the world to the challenge of climate change, it’s a big mistake to just look at the formal U.N. negotiating process and the chaos of Copenhagen and so on and so forth,” he said.

The conference was criticized by some for failing to reach a substantial agreement on climate change. As a result, the Global Research Alliance will include not only governments, but also private corporations from around the world. Groser said they are trying to reduce their “carbon footprint.”

“It’s not part of a coordinated exercise. It’s more inspired by the single idea that over the next 30 to 40 years we’ve got to try to lower the growth rate of emissions going into the atmosphere. That’s the unifying idea,” said Groser.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs