UXBRIDGE, Canada, Apr 2 (IPS) – Don’t forget about agriculture in the upcoming global negotiations to combat climate change, experts warn. Not only is farming most at risk in an increasingly variable and tempestuous climate, it is also a major emitter of greenhouse gases.
But with the right policies in place, agriculture could both continue to feed the world and play a crucial role in solving the climate problem.
“Agriculture has been missing in the run-up talks to Copenhagen,” says Mark Rosegrant of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
The nations of the world will meet in Copenhagen this December to hammer out a new climate treaty to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and establish a fund to help poorer countries adapt. The complex process began in 2007 at the Bali talks, continued in Poznan, Poland in 2008 and is ongoing this week in Bonn.
Agriculture accounts for about 15 percent of human emissions of GHGs, IFPRI says, although the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change puts it higher at 25 percent. Much of those emissions come from developed countries that rely heavily on fossil fuels and fertilisers and raise far more methane-emitting livestock.
With climate change the world is facing reduced yields of up to 20 percent in maize and rice by the year 2050, Rosegrant told IPS. Much of that yield decline will be in the developing world, mainly because sub-tropical and tropical regions are expected to be hit hardest by significant changes in water availability and warmer temperatures.
Climate change could mean ever-rising food prices and therefore significant investments are needed in agricultural research to help countries cope with the coming changes, he says: “We’re trying to work out what the costs for adaptation in agriculture might be.” Continue reading