Carbon financing scheme can boost farming, reduce global warming – UN expert

28 October 2008

Agricultural experts met today to discuss how the sector can tap into the billions of dollars available every year under the United Nations-sponsored Kyoto Protocol – aimed at reducing global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – to improve the lives of poor farmers from around the world.

Every year an estimated $15 billion is on hand under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to finance initiatives that help reduce GHG emissions into the atmosphere.

Although agriculture is a leading source of GHG emissions, accounting for roughly 30 per cent of global production, the sector sees little of the money, according to a press release issued by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Under the CDM industrialized countries can offset some of their own GHG emissions by investing in emission-saving projects overseas.

“This is a win-win-win opportunity,” FAO Senior Officer Theodor Friedrich told the some 100 experts attending the three-day meeting held in West Lafayette, a town in Indiana, United States.

“We have a chance to slow climate change, help poor farmers make a better living and improve soil health and productivity all at the same time,” he added.

Traditional tilling and ploughing releases carbon dioxide stored in the land contributing to GHG build-up and climate change, but new systems, such as no-till Conservation Agriculture – drilling seeds directly into the soil – are much more climate friendly and can remove significant quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the soil.

“[The] application of no-tillage farming methods to all of the world’s 5 billion hectares of agricultural land could allow up to 3 billion tons of atmospheric carbon to be sequestered every year for 30 years,” Mr. Friedrich told the Indiana meeting.

“This is roughly the annual rate at which human-induced carbon dioxide is currently increasing,” he stressed at the meeting, which was jointly organized by FAO and the Conservation Technology Information Centre, with the support of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

In other environmental news, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed participants at the 10th Ramsar Convention – an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands – held in Changwon, Korea.

“We need healthy wetlands for food, water, fibre, and medicines. We need them to reach the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs],” he told the conference in a video message.

“We need them as carbon reservoirs to help us to manage greenhouse gas emissions. We need them to help us build resilience in the face of climate change,” he added.


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