Climate crisis - Copenhagen - putting agriculture front and centre in the discussions over climate change
GRAIN | 10 December 2009 | Other publications
GRAIN publications back call for action on agriculture to address climate change
On December 15th, La Via Campesina and a number of other groups will be leading a day of action in Copenhagen to put agriculture front and centre in the discussions over climate change. Although the official Convention is sure to disappoint, these groups will be carrying a message of hope. What they want the world to know is that, in their on-going struggle for food sovereignty, there is a way out of the climate crisis.
GRAIN couldn't agree more. Today's global food system needs an overhaul. According to our calculations, the expansion of the industrial food system is the leading cause of climate change. Through its reliance on fossil fuels, massive exports, market concentration, erosion of soils and expansion of plantations, it generates 44-57% of the total global green house gas (GHG) emissions. This industrial food system is also completely incapable of assuring people's food and livelihood needs as the world moves further into climate change. Already it has left a billion people without enough food to eat, and hundreds of millions of more people will go hungry in the coming years if the food system is not reorganised.
The most devastating consequence of this industrial food system, however, is that it is destroying other food systems that can turn climate change around and provide for the world's food needs.
Forget about carbon markets, geo-engineering and all the other false solutions. Here is a real way out of the climate crisis.*
- By using agroecological practices to rebuild the organic matter in soils lost from industrial agriculture, total GHG emissions can be reduced by 20-35%
- By decentralising livestock farming and integrating it with crop production, total GHG emissions can be reduced by 5-9%
- By distributing food mainly through local markets instead of transnational food chains, total GHG emissions can be reduced by 10-12%
- By stopping land clearing and deforestation for plantations, total GHG emissions can be reduced by 15-18%
These straightforward measures would lead to a reduction of 1/2 to 3/4 of current global GHG emissions.
What is required to get there is what farmers and food producers have been defending and calling for for decades:
- decentralisation of production and distribution,
- effective support for agricultural practices based on agro-ecological processes, biodiversity and local knowledge, and
- profound agrarian reform
Politics is the only thing standing in the way of such a transition. The problem is that the corporations that profit from industrial food are setting the policy agenda. It's time to take the fate of the planet and humankind from the hands of big speculators and put the world's food producers first.
To contact the Via Campesina delegation in Copenhagen, please call:
Isabelle Delforge and Boaventura Monjane: +45 5059 8325
For information on Agriculture Action Day:
climate-action (at) aseed.net
*The complete facts and figures are available from the following newly released reports:
Small farmers can cool the planet :A way out of the mayhem caused by the industrial food system, November 2009
Small Scale Sustainable Farmers Are Cooling Down The Earth, November 2009
Via Campesina Views
Earth matters - Tackling the climate crisis from the ground up, October 2009
The international food system and the climate crisis, October 2009