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Addressing the technicalities: What ARD stakeholders need to do to deliver on a Copenhagen agreed outcome

Working papers

Written by Natasha Grist, Steve Wiggins

This paper argues that the principal goal for the Copenhagen conference and its outcome should be to treat emissions from agriculture and agricultural land with equal importance as those from (de)forested land, both in terms of sources and sinks of GHGs. At a lower level, it argues getting farmers to participate fully in programme designs may be a way to find more effective and innovative solutions to the human side of the challenge. Some particular point are:

  • The opportunity and need to include agriculture in climate change agreements are great: when the stakes are high enough, as they are, there should be the will to find a way. Such stimulus should be sufficient to resolve old problems and make a breakthrough.
  • The principal goal for the Copenhagen conference and its outcome should be to treat emissions from agriculture and agricultural land with equal importance as those from (de)forested land, both in terms of sources and sinks of GHGs . This implies the introduction of agriculture in the mechanisms and actions under the Convention (e.g. REDD plus) and under the Kyoto Protocol (e.g. CDM).
  • The issue of agriculture came to the centre of the climate talks rather recently and consequently most of the technical issues still need to be resolved. It will not be possible to achieve this before the Copenhagen conference at the end of the year. The second goal for the Copenhagen conference is therefore to get a mandate for a working/expert group that will allow effective solutions to be developed over the next three years.
  • Entry points in the short run include those activities with pay-offs in mitigation and adaptation, and in some cases in agricultural productivity as well. Simple actions that are feasible at present or in the near future should initially be preferred and progress to more complex actions as capacity is built.
  • There are several gaps in understanding that need to be bridged to reach effective implementation of mitigation actions in agriculture under the UNFCCC. While the gaps in physical science and social science are well known, those of administration, governance and national capacity in developing countries are daunting.
  • Learning from pilots and previous experience is key. Getting farmers to participate fully in programme designs may be a way to find more effective and innovative solutions to the human side of the challenge.
Natasha Grist and Steve Wiggins