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Organic Consumers Association

UN Negotiators Ditch Climate-Friendly Agriculture Plan

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Environment and Climate Resource Center page and our Farm Issues page.

Controversy has dogged the UN climate talks this week. Japan downgraded its 2020 target for emissions cuts from 25 per cent below 2005 levels to 3.8 per cent below; a newly belligerent Australia has refused to help fund adaptation measures in developing countries; and the Polish hosts were pilloried for their ongoing support of coal.

But the biggest disappointment so far from the meeting in Warsaw, was the abandonment of talks on how to cut emissions from agriculture - the sector responsible for 30 per cent of the global total.

The idea had been to draft a deal that could fund ways of farming that absorb greenhouse gases while growing more food and improving the lives of poor farmers, particularly those in Africa. Potential techniques include improving degraded soils so they can hold more carbon, and planting commercially valuable trees among crops.

The plan gained ground after being proposed by South Africa during climate talks in Durban two years ago. The discussions at Warsaw were supposed to lay the path for the plan to be included in a future climate treaty, scheduled for agreement in 2015.   

Accusations of ignorance

Insiders at the talks, which conclude on Friday, say that China, India and other developing countries vetoed the discussions. They fear that rich nations want to use the scheme to impose limits on their carbon emissions from agriculture. Rich nations deny this.

"It is a setback for Africa. Negotiators run the risk of turning their backs on some of the world's most vulnerable," says Rachel Kyte, the World Bank's vice-president for sustainable development.  


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