An international summit of historic importance aimed at curbing climate change will take place in Paris starting next week and U.S. farm leaders, along with representatives from business and groups in the agriculture supply chain, will be there to share with policy makers from around the world the role agriculture can play in providing solutions.
This contingent attending the 12-day UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (known as COP21) is a collaborative effort being under the auspices of the North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance (NACSAA), an initiative launched last year by Solutions from the Land (SfL is 25x’25’s parent organization) to share knowledge about and promote the application of good climate science to American farmers and beyond. Participating in this mission will be Fred Yoder, past president of the National Corn Growers Association and chairman of the NACSAA steering committee; A.G. Kawamura, former secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture and co-chairman of the Sfl board of directors; Don McCabe, president of the Ontario (Can.) Federation of Agriculture and an NACSAA steering committee member, and Ernie Shea, SfL president and NACSAA coordinator.
COP21 will bring together representatives of nearly 200 nations, who will work to hammer out an agreement that will lead to reduced carbon emissions, methane and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) that are causing global temperatures to rise, resulting in volatile weather, including flooding and drought. As demonstrated by the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) earlier this year, the changing conditions are having an impact on agricultural production, which will only worsen if nations around the world don’t come to an agreement to stem GHGs and limit the rise in temperatures to no more than 2 degrees Celsius by 2050 as proposed by the IPCC.
The NACSAA team will be among a diverse collection of stakeholders, including agribusinesses, farmer organizations, non-governmental organizations and environmental advocates who will be advancing messages and recommendations around climate change and agriculture.
Unfortunately, a number of those groups have been portraying agriculture through a “problem frame” that emphasizes greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with livestock production and agriculture driven land use conversations, and reinforcing biases against certain forms of agriculture, especially “industrial” agriculture.
The NACSAA team will be meeting with policy leaders and conducting and participating in panels and other side events in Paris, all with the intent of driving a “solutions frame” conversation about agriculture’s role in climate change. The NACSAA effort will show how farmer leaders can be highly effective in shaping climate change policies that will allow for the full range of good and services they can deliver from the land to be realized.
In addition to reframing the agriculture/climate change discussion, the NASCAA representatives will champion and build broad global support for the three pillars of Climate Smart Agriculture:
1. Sustainably intensifying production systems to ensure the needs of a growing world population are met
2. Providing the tools that can build production resiliency and allow growers to adapt to the changing climate
3. Offering major reductions in greenhouse gases through carbon soil sequestration and biofuels that burn more cleanly than fossil fuels.
Building on those three pillars, the NACSAA messaging in Paris will advance the reality that agriculture offers solutions to climate change, with team leaders reinforcing:
· Agricultural systems, forests, and other land uses can be sustainably managed to simultaneously satisfy domestic and global demand for safe, abundant, and affordable food, feed, and fiber; as well as support economic security and sustainable development; reduce hunger and malnutrition; improve soils, water and air quality; enhance biodiversity and ensure ecosystem health, while also delivering mitigation and adaptation solutions to a changing climate;
· Agricultural methodologies and metrics must be established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change;
· Biofuels are an important pathway for reducing carbon pollution;
· CSA should not focus solely on smallholders; all forms of agriculture are all important and can contribute to achieving climate change goals;
· While more work remains, agriculture deserves credit for the tremendous progress the sector has made in reducing GHG emission and achieving sustainability goals up to this point.
NACSAA’s engagement puts the alliance on the world stage as a voice for agriculture in the international effort to reverse changes in climate that have deep impacts on how we produce our food, feed, fiber and, in the case of biofuels, energy. Global leaders will hear loud and clear that agriculture is a major player in the ongoing fight against climate change.