Sunday, December 27, 2009

Santa came to Agriculture at Copenhagen

In his last blog post for the year, the Farm Institute’s Mick Keogh asked himself 'What happened to agriculture at Copenhagen?" and came up with the answer: "Nothing…. Good or Bad"
But he shouldn't be so glum, Mick. Santa came to Agriculture at Copenhagen. We now have a consensus of the major developed nations on "A SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT" for Agriculture that makes Dark Greens grind their teeth. That arrangement is based on the ‘Specificity of Agriculture'* which is a Copenhagen outcome. We have a broad coalition of nations and institutions who 'get it' about soil carbon. This coalition includes the USA, the EU, the World Bank, the International Federation of Agricultural Producers, the FAO and the UN itself. They know that the future will be very uncomfortable without it. It is inevitable because we hold the key to the future. While the climate scientists were wringing their hands and saying it's already too late, someone took a serious look at soil, did the sums, and decided it would be a doddle to pull 50 parts per million out of the atmosphere for 50 years. This is the bridge to the future the world has been looking for. No one can stop it now. But the most significant outcome from this consensus around Agriculture is a shift in thinking from zero-sum to win-win when it comes to farmers being rewarded financially for protecting and restoring the natural resource base. The meaning behind this development is very historic: It means that - for the first time in the history of human agriculture - there has been a real conomic value put on Nature that is more than a notional value. It is a working capital value. The people doing the farming (and the harming) can follow their natural inclination to treat the land with the respect they have for it, rather than overtax its capacity in order to make a decent living when society doesn't wish to pay a fair price for essential food and fibre that farmers produce. The Soil Carbon Solution will be seen by future generations as the turning point, if we are lucky. Finally, the best outcome for the world from COP15 was the fact that 'they' are not going to do anything useful about it. And right now those of the People leading the Climate Change Rebellion are taking us down a dangerous path. It should be noted that the Nationals do not support the Soil Carbon Solution or the Special Arrangement for Agriculture. Incentives, not taxes for Methane. Incentives, not taxes for Nitrogen Emissions. Plus Soil Carbon Credits if you want them. In our wildest dreams we did not think that the deal would be this good. But Barnaby describes it as being 'a little red car for Christmas and some fairy wings'. For oyur grandchildren's sake it is to be hoped that he has the courage to turn that little red car around.

FOOTNOTE: The Specificity has three sides: unlike other emitting industries, Agriculture is also a sink; it can help governments meet their emissions targets and give countries the time needed for renewable energy to gain critical base load capacity; and - the main anxiety of governments given briefings by military strategists - who else is going to feed the world's population when it doubles in 50 years?

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