Thursday, 17 December 2009

Agriculture and Climate Change: Real Problems, False Solutions

Ruci Mafi, SPC, Climate Pasifika

Copenhagen, 16 December - Agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, a report revealed at the 15th Session of the Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A report on “Agriculture and Climate Change: Real Problems, False Solutions” said that about 35 percent of greenhouse gas emissions came from non-energy emissions, 14 percent were nitrous oxide and methane from agriculture, 18 percent from land use change mainly from deforestation for agricultural purposes, although there is a high margin of uncertainty.

“Those figures do not include large emissions from soil carbon losses, including peat degradation and peat fires,” the report said.

Citing examples the report made mention of the United States food system which accounts for some 17 percent of its energy consumption.

“There are some scientists who believe that the above figures for emissions from livestock may be a gross

Under estimate and methane has a much greater short term warming impact than is suggested by calculating its impact over a century, as is commonly done,” the report said.

At the same time, the impacts of climate change on agriculture are already serious.

The report was published for the Conference of the Parties, COP15, of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen and was prepared by NOAH - Friends of the Earth Denmark, and The Development Fund Norway December 2009.

“Seasons and weather are becoming increasingly unpredictable and extreme.”

“This can lead to major losses as farmers no longer know what or when to plant,” the report said.

If climate change continues unabated, the increasing extremes could lead to the collapse of whole agricultural regions.

“Climate change also disrupts and alters pest and disease patterns, posing risks to agriculture everywhere.”

It is widely accepted that industrial agriculture has had destructive impacts on climate, ecosystems, soil, water and biodiversity resources.

In many quarters, including the UNFCCC itself, further intensification of industrial agriculture is now proposed as part of the solution to the problems of climate change.

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