Friday, April 10, 2009

Experts urge UN to include agriculture in climate talks

EurActiv: Cutting greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture could further help mitigate the impact of climate change, policy experts are arguing, calling for the sector to be put at the centre of ongoing UN climate talks. Agriculture is "the missing word" in the UN climate talks, said Gerald Nelson, a senior research fellow at IFPRI, adding that while the agricultural sector emits 14% of total greenhouse gas emissions, it also has a "unique role" in absorbing carbon emitted from other sectors.

Therefore, "any funds set aside in the UN talks to help adaptation need to include agriculture. We need to think about new crop varities, new physical infrastructure to make farming more resilient as well as new institutions both domestically and internationally that support resilience," said Nelson.

According to IFPRI, agriculture can mitigate emissions through "changes in agricultural technologies and management practices," and new crop mixes that include more perennial plants or have deeper root systems. Such plants allow more carbon to be stored in the soil.

Reduced tillage and changes in crop genetics, irrigation, fertiliser use, livestock species and feeding practices can also reduce emissions, the paper continues, asserting that changes to make the agricultural system more resilient to climate change will also increase carbon sequestration.

As the total share of emissions from agriculture is larger in the developing world, "cost-effective ways must be found to help poor people" to both mitigate and adapt to climate change, underlined Nelson. IFPRI also calls for more investment and funding to support agricultural research, rural infrastructure, and access to markets for small farmers in developing countries….

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