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Interaction of agriculture and climate change: opportunties of synergistic policies

Agriculture and Climate Change: An Agenda for Negotiation in Copenhagen by Gerald Nelson, a new report from IFPRI, argues that due to the substantial impacts of climate on agriculture and agriculture of climate, agricultural policy should be coupled to climate policy.  SciDev.net reorts Put agriculture at heart of climate talks, says report

Mark Rosegrant, director of the Environment and Production Technology Division of IFPRI, said that the effect of climate change on agriculture was “uncertain and variable around the world. But one thing is very clear: that the poor and developing countries are more vulnerable.”

Developing countries have less rainfall, are more dependent on agriculture and face greater obstacles to adaptation, he said.

IFPRI has made provisional estimates that the global yield of rain-fed maize will decline by 17 per cent and the yield of irrigated rice will drop by a fifth by 2050 as a result of climate change. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia will be the worst hit, according to the new data.

But the way agriculture will suffer as a result of climate change is only half of the story, the report argues. Its role in influencing climate change is also being ignored, despite the “huge potential to cost-effectively mitigate greenhouse gases through changes in agricultural technologies and management practices”.

Agriculture contributes about 14 per cent of annual greenhouse gas emissions. But by changing the types of crops grown, reducing land tillage and switching from annual to perennial crops — as well as changing crop genetics and improving the management of irrigation and fertiliser use — greenhouse gas emissions could be cut.

The report suggests several potential negotiating outcomes (for more information see the report):

  • Fund cost-effective mitigation in agriculture and research on promising technologies and management systems
  • Fund low-cost systems for monitoring agricultural mitigation
  • Allow innovative payment mechanisms and support for novel institutions for agricultural mitigation
  • Allow funding mechanisms that recognize the connection between pro-poor development policies for sustainable growth and sound climate change policies
  • Allow funding mechanisms that recognize and support synergies between adaptation and mitigation
  • Provide funds for agricultural science and technology
  • Provide funds for infrastructure and institutional innovations
  • Provide funds for data collection on the local context of agriculture