Saturday, December 12, 2009

Agriculture inching its way into Climate Change agreements

At the COP14 meeting held in Poznan in Dec 2008, I participated in both of the side events that delt with agriculture. We were pleased that both events were well attended, generating lots of interesting discussion. We had some followup meetings and people talked about the need to get agriculture into the cliamte change negotiating processes.

There was a fair amount of followup in 2009, including several synthesis publications such as the 2020 Briefs produced by IFPRI. Meine Van Noordwijk and I contributed one paper to this series.

At COP15, the number of side events focused on agriculture increased from 2 to more than 10. Today more than 300 people spent the whole day at the first ever Agriculture Day at the nearby University of Copenhagen. The event brought together an interesting array of agricultural scientists, NGOs and farmer organizations The International Federation of Agricultural Producers was particularly well-represented. The event had a number of high-profile speakers, including Tom Vilsack, US Secretary of Agriculture (who stayed for the whole day). We had productive discussions, and ended up with a strong call for the inclusion of agriculture in the Copenhagen agreement.

I'm pleased that the two points I raised from the floor were included in the final summary of the meeting. My points were: 1. It is important that the agricultural science community work hard over the next year so that the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report provides a more complete and realistic assessment of agriculture than the fourth assessment report. 2. Alberta's agricultural offset program is one of the most active and thoughtful in the world. Lessons can be learned for other countries.

Word from the negotiating rooms is that the new agreement will endorse a work program on agriculture. Not a bad outcome under the circumstances.

1 comment:

  1. For those of us who aren't very knowledgeable on Alberta's agricultural offset program, I have found a really accessible explanation of it here:$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/cl11618/$FILE/2pagersummary_jan09.pdf

    I found it very interesting that livestock such as beef and pork are quantified in Alberta's carbon offset market. Regarding your last post, Brent, it may be the case that those trying to come up with a comprehensive plan for decreasing carbon emissions produced by livestock might also look at Alberta's plans for decreasing them.