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Agriculture "largely ignored" in climate talks

Cereals are displayed for sale in central market of Kabul, Afghan, June 2008. Due to high food prices majority of the people cannot afford regular daily meals.
(Manoocher Deghati/IRIN)

Agriculture is in danger of being ignored in any final deal made at the key climate talks in Copenhagen in December, says a top negotiator.



Michael Zammit-Cutajar, who chairs the working group on financing for adaptation measures in developing countries, said agriculture was "flagged" in the working text but would probably not get more of a mention than that.



"There's one comment in the text. It's more of a flag that it's important but it's not useful to develop it beyond a flag," Zammit-Cutajar, chairman of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty (UNFCCC), told IRIN in Bangkok.



"It's up to individual countries to decide what to do with their own agricultural sectors," he said.



The UNFCCC's other working group deals with reducing greenhouse gas emissions.



However, Zammit-Cutajar hinted that a European Union (EU) proposal for carbon trading by sector could be developed after Copenhagen - which might allow developing-world farmers to earn money while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions from their farming.



"The EU has a proposal for carbon trading by sector. There may be agreement at Copenhagen that it's a good thing and that we should develop it," he said.



Both the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) this week lobbied for farming to feature more prominently in any deal reached in Copenhagen.



Negotiations are under way in Bangkok between country delegates to whittle down the outline of a deal to about 50 pages of text from more than 200.



Agriculture "crucial"



Any climate change deal agreed by the international community must focus more on agriculture both to ensure food security and reduce emissions, Mark Rosegrant, director of the Environment and Production Technology Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), said this week.












A Vietnamese farmer tends her newly planted Jatropha crop in Nha Trang. Jatropha is a plant that can grow in extremely arid conditions and which produces a seed that when crushed creates a bio-diesel that can be used to fuel diesel engines

A Vietnamese farmer tends her newly planted Jatropha crop in Nha Trang, Vietnam
David Gough/IRIN
A Vietnamese farmer tends her newly planted Jatropha crop in Nha Trang. Jatropha is a plant that can grow in extremely arid conditions and which produces a seed that when crushed creates a bio-diesel that can be used to fuel diesel engines
http://www.irinnews.org/photo.aspx
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Vietnam meets hunger MDG ahead of 2015
A Vietnamese farmer tends her newly planted Jatropha crop in Nha Trang. Jatropha is a plant that can grow in extremely arid conditions and which produces a seed that when crushed creates a bio-diesel that can be used to fuel diesel engines


Photo: David Gough/IRIN
A Vietnamese farmer tends her newly planted Jatropha crop in Nha Trang

"We need to get agriculture into the negotiations ... in Copenhagen so it has much greater access to adaptation funding and a role to play in greenhouse gas emission reduction," said Rosegrant.



"We need to develop appropriate and simplified access of small farmers and rural producers to carbon trading. It's feasible if we can get agriculture as a bigger part of the Copenhagen deal," he added.



The FAO also weighed into the debate: "Agriculture has largely remained a marginal issue in climate change negotiations. Adaptation of the agricultural sector to climate change will be costly but vital for food security, poverty reduction and maintaining the ecosystem."



Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture account for about 14 percent of the world's total emissions but 70 percent of the potential for reducing those emissions lie in developing countries, the FAO said.



Lower emissions from rural farming could generate about US$5.5 billion for further investment in Asia if communities obtain access to carbon trading, which could yield cash for emissions reductions at about $20 per tonne of carbon dioxide, Rosegrant said.



Food threat



Meanwhile, an estimated $5 billion more per year is needed to help Asian farmers adapt to climate change, he said, otherwise production of staples could fall by as much as 40 percent in Asia, with prices possibly doubling.



The poor in South Asian and sub-Saharan African countries, where food purchases already take up 50-60 percent of incomes, will be the hardest hit, with an extra 11 million hungry children in Asia, 10 million more in Africa and four million in the rest of the world, according to IFPRI.



"The developed world has to get bigger money out there and ASEAN [Association of South East Asian Nations] and SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] need to play a much more important role in climate change. They can do it but I'm not sure they will," said Rosegrant.



In South Asia, investment in rural infrastructure has actually declined over the past 20 years, according to Kelly Dent of Oxfam's economic justice team.



"It has been allowed to decline dramatically. There is a direct link between this and South Asia's status as the most gender-unequal region in the world. Many women are subsistence farmers and do not benefit from money earmarked for developing agricultural trade," she said.



For additional reports see:

Put small-scale farmers on the climate change talks agenda

The case for agriculture in Copenhagen



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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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