Thursday, December 04, 2008

Meet FAO again, On The Road To Santa Fe

Soil carbon specialists from North and South America, China, and Australia met this week in Santa Fe to increase the pressure on the issue of soil carbon sequestration, especially in grasslands (temperate and tropical savannas and rangelands) in the run-up to Copenhagen 2009. Again the FAO was represented, this time by Lesley Lipper, a senior environmental economist in the agricultural and economics division. She is a very imaginative, focussed person with great vision. The 3-day event was kicked off by Professor Lal, whom I have seen present three times in the past month, and he has crafted a presentation for each audience. (Prodigious output, and all of it excellent.). Shannon Horst of Holistic Management International was our host and the Blackstone Ranch Institute made the meeting possible. Executive Director of the Institute, John Richardson, formerly worked with UNICEF. The Institute funds 'vital strategic dialogues at the inception or break out stage of major social innovation.' Also attending is our friend Andrew Fynn who we met in California whn travelling to the FAO-sponsored Conservation farming and Carbon Sequestration meeting in Indiana. Andrew has "JUST DO IT" tattooed on the inside of his eye-lids (or appears to). He is hurrying to find a solution to the usual problems so he can kick start the trading. The "Just Do It" strategy is finding favour. Andy Wilkes, from ICRAF-China, an agroforestry offset development operation, is determined to conquer China which we agree is the lynchpin for the rest of the world falling into step. Maria-Christina Amezquita has a brilliant presentation on the performance of soils in several South American countries. Peter Donovan is the brains behind the Soil Carbon Coalition and is an advocate from Oregon. (Great name.)
This is a smart bunch of people.

I stumbled into a nest of scientists who believe that sol carbon is a function of ecological forces and this mysterious pathway will lead us to better things. Greg McCarty, Rich Conant, and Michael Ebinger have a lot to offer us.


The dreary truth emerged during a breakout session that no matter how smart we are, the same old problems will dog us forever: Measurement, Additionality, and Permanence. People who cannot see these as the foundations of the barriers against soil carbon are destined to bang their heads fruitlessly against them. The rules were not made for soils. They will never accommodate soil carbon. It cannot conform to the bureaucratic demand. Yet we have proved that soil carbon sequestration is the single solution for the next 30 years, reducing the GHG at a dramatic rate once most of the available. I make my argument clear, although it is not yet Carbon Coaltion Policy, that the three problems aren't developed yet.

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