Friday, April 10, 2009

Where was Australia?

Agriculture made it onto the Agenda of the latest round of Climate Negotiations in Bonn, but Australia was not among the growing coalition of countries showing support. The Climate Change Convention held the first workshop on agriculture ever on 4 April, focused on the opportunities and challenges for mitigation in the agricultural sector. Several countries including the U.S., Mexico, Uruguay, the Philippines, New Zealand, the EU, Canada, Japan, Bangladesh, Samoa, Senegal and Chile all expressed a wish that the role and contribution of agriculture be formalized in the negotiations. All participants felt that the potential for agriculture to mitigate climate change has been overlooked in the negotiations. Many called for increased research into methodologies and field testing to measure its potential.
The International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP) said that this workshop helped identify the countries that are willing to put agriculture in the spotlight of negotiations. Australia is apparently not one of those.
VIce President Raul Montemayor said “the current carbon counting construct looks at only half of the story. It looks at GHG emissions from agriculture without acknowledging its sequestration capacity.” He added that “the biggest mitigation potential of agriculture should be expected in terms of improvements in efficiency rather than absolute reductions in GHG emissions.”
He also called for a vigorous but efficient verification technology to ensure compliance of approved practices. “Establishing incentives and rewards for farmers to utilize approved GHG mitigation practices through established carbon credit systems is key to encouraging more sustainable farming practices.”
The USA's position is critical to success. William Hohenstein, Director of the Climate Change Office at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said: “I have spent a lot of time talking to farmers about climate change. Agriculture is on the receiving end of climate change; we are likely to be one of the sectors most impacted by climate change.”
From now until IFAP’s Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark on May 27, IFAP’s expert group on climate change will focus its efforts on working out the nuts and bolts of the issues related to agriculture, which is the most significant task ahead.

Link to the webcast and presentations:

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