December 06, 2011

Indian NGOs bust the myth of climate smart agriculture

While the negotiations remain deadlocked in Durban over the issues of fate of Kyoto Protocol and Green Climate Fund, NGOs strongly opposed the climate smart agriculture which is being proposed as triple win solution to the problems of climate change, food insecurity and low resilience of farmers due to climate change impacts. In a side event a collective of NGOs from India, argued that the climate smart agriculture is a myth and falsehood being propagated by the agencies who have commercial interest in mitigation in agriculture. Besides, developed countries who do not want to reduce their own emissions are shifting the burden of mitigation on the developing countries and especially farming communities who are already under huge burden of adapting to the climate change impacts as they are the worst affected.

Opening the panel discussion, Ajay Jha from Pairvi, an advocacy support organization based in Delhi said that UNFCCC negotiations are under huge pressure from developed countries like US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Japan etc. to include soil carbon sequestration in the Clean Development Mechanism. He said that it is being done at the behest of big agribusiness countries who will benefit significantly from it, and developed countries who will have another market based mechanism to fall back and escape their historical responsibility. Farmers fear that if soil carbon sequestration is approved as CDM, that will inevitably lead to land grabbing, and farmers losing the sovereignty on their land and produce. Ms. Anika Shroeder from MISEREOR, Germany talked about the false solutions being proposed in agriculture. She said that soil carbon sequestration is a methodology mired in inadequate scientific knowledge, inappropriate data and lack of countries capacity to measure soil carbon as it varies largely in different agro climatic zones and conditions. Many pilot projects being undertaken by World Bank etc. have even not been able to set the baseline, she reasoned. She also talked about how bio-char and no till agriculture being pushed as solutions to reduce emission in agriculture does not have much scientific basis or proven experience of reducing emission, and ultimately end up promoting increased fertilizer and pesticide use, which will benefit agribusiness companies and further increase the input cost in agriculture. She also added that farming communities in developing countries are being made to believe that they would financially benefit from these mitigation projects in agriculture, however, as a matter of fact these projects are so difficult and technical to commission that it is very unlikely that farmers would be able to do it. Few pilot projects have also revealed that the financial benefit going to farmer, if at all has been extremely insignificant, she added. Mr. Atul Kumar Singh Anjaan, Secretary of CPI said that climate criminals and industrialized countries having huge climate debt are devising new ways of fooling around farmers who are the worst victim of climate change impacts. However, more worrisome is lack of support to farmers in developing countries by their own governments. Globally public investment in agriculture is around 4% of the GDP while agriculture contributes to more than 25% in the GDP in the developing countries, unless that improves it would be difficult to bring resilience in agriculture and fight hunger in the world, he emphasized. More than 70% of farmers in India have a landholding of less than 0.2 ha, if they were to burdened with reducing emission in agriculture, it would severely affect the food security in these countries.

Mr. Anil Dave, Member of Parliament said that world are moving towards a system which is based on over exploitation of natural resources to optimize profit, and developed countries are harbingers and leaders of this political economy. They treat land, water, forests as dead objects created to benefit them, however, until we have respect for them, and try to harmonize our own existence with their existence, we cannot reach the goal of sustainable development, he underlined. Developed countries must provide financial and technological support to suffering millions and farmers in developing countries, in accordance with the climate debt they owe to them. Fast, just and adequate adaptation support is what farmers need in the developing countries, and it is highly unjust to allow polluting countries to continue polluting, and allow big agribusiness companies to fill their coffers in pretext of helping nature and agriculture. Mr. Soumya Dutta, convener of Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha said that developed countries talking about reducing emission in agriculture is a stupid idea, as developing countries agriculture is already very smart. Developed countries burn at least three times more energy in producing one unit of food as compared to developing countries, he added. He added that even the national action plan on climate change and state action plan on climate change in different states are also jumping on the bandwagon by proposing soil carbon sequestration, modern scientific agriculture, increased use of biotechnology, no till agriculture etc. The mitigation in agriculture is being aggressively pushed by agribusiness companies and their huge financial interests, developing countries unable to see through the design is highly unfortunate. He also challenged the figures reported on agricultural emissions and that developing countries contribute to 70% of agricultural emissions, as having very little scientific basis.

Reportedly agriculture is one of the important components being negotiated in the Durban climate change conference which has representation from governments of 194 countries. Umbrella group comprising Australia, New Zealand, Canada supported by the US, and many multilateral agencies including World Bank and FAO want SBSTA (Subsidiary Body on scientific and Technological Advice to undertake a work programme on agriculture and agricultural emissions, which developing countries and farming communities believe will pave the way for agriculture being used as carbon sink. A number of farming communities associations and civil society organizations are reported to be strongly against agriculture in climate change negotiations. African countries are keen to take the discussion forward on agriculture. President Mr. Jacob Zuma also sees agriculture as one of the major deliverables in Durban.

3rd December 2011

From COP 17, Durban

Ajay. K. Jha

December 05, 2011

Binding mitigation targets for China, India etc - post 2020 ?

The Kyoto protocol - worked out in 1997, and in effect from 2005 February -- do not include any targets for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by the developing or poor countries -- only the 37 rich countries in the Annex I list are bound by the KP to reduce their emissions by over 5% between 2008-2012. Almost none of these major countries have done any substantial reductions, except Germany for the last 3 years, all of them have been demanding the large 'emerging economies' - like China, India, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico etc -- take on binding commitments for reductions. Or else, these developed & rich countries are threatening to walk out of Kyoto Protocol (KP).

Just before the Copenhagen COP-15 in 2009, both the Governments of India & China declared their voluntary "Reduction of Energy Intensity of their Economies" by 20-25% and by up to 40% respectively, the pressure on these so-called emerging economies has increased since then.

Here in Durban, China is playing it’s cards very intelligently; by giving statements of intentions of emission reduction, by publishing and distributing huge amounts of material about what China is doing in terms of the shift to renewable energy etc. India -- in contrast - is hardly visible in the international scene, and even the press briefing that the Indian Govt. delegation (negotiating team) gave here was fuzzy and evasive. The heat is on these large emerging polluters, but India seems to have lost the mind space of the thousands of observers here and hundreds of millions out in the world.


From COP 17, Durban

Soumya Dutta

Beyond Copenhagen

December 02, 2011

List of corporations inside COP 17

For the last several years, many big business & industry groups have floated NGOs, to have additional intervention space in all kinds of negotiations -- be it Trade, Climate change, Food security, water. The convoluted argument they put up is -- "aren't we also 'civil society’?". This completely negates the fact that as the moneyed groups, they already wield huge influences over governments and policy making. By floating these BINGOs (Business & Industry NGOs), they are deliberately & with clever designs -- encroaching upon the already shrunk democratic space left for various people's groups, social movements, progressive CSOs etc

Richard Polaris has compiled a list of corporations participating in this COP17 in Durban. This can be seen together with the fact that:

1. Big technology corporate solutions -- like the carbon Capture & Storage (CCS), Geo-engineering etc are being pushed as "solutions" for the emerging climate crisis, and
2. Even in the Climate finance issues, a hard push is visible for a part of whatever little climate finance is to emerge -- to go for financing private sector enterprises!!

Also to be noted, that many of the BINGOs masquerading as "civil society" are the big dirty-energy groups like Shell, Exxon, Sasol, Eskom etc, nuclear power vendors like Areva, many of which are extractive industry behemoths like Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton etc.


Soumya Dutta

Beyond Copenhagen Coalition

Will Durban COP17 effectively bury the Kyoto protocol?

The indications were there right from the Copenhagen COP15 -- many developed countries were intending to abandon the Kyoto Protocol, unless the major developing countries take on significant mitigation responsibilities. Cancun COP16 only strengthened this trend, and in Durban - several developed countries are asking for a "DURBAN MANDATE" to "launch a process for a new global treaty" to address the deepening climate change crisis.

Lead by japan, Australia, even European Union -- developed countries are asking for a “new global and comprehensive legally binding (mitigation) framework” which will legally bind all “major economies”, including China, India, south africa, brazil, Mexico etc. into commitments of mitigation (and may be even climate finance). Japan & EU have demanded the setting up of a new working group to launch this process towards a new treaty !

All these means that the developed country parties are no longer feeling bound by their commitments under the Kyoto Protocol -- the only legally binding agreement in the area of climate change crisis. And the demand for a Durban Mandate to launch a process for a comprehensive treaty means essentially that the 2nd commitment period of the Kyoto protocol will not be there, and some diluted, business friendly hotch-potch will be signed on, leaving the field wide open for unmitigated business profits as usual -- as the driving force, rather than the facts from science/ research & World opinion -- become the enabling environment for business & profit.

The wild dogs always hunt in packs. Similar is the case for the hunting developed countries. First they sucked the resources of the poorer countries hollow, locking them into a viscious cycle of deprivation. Then they dumped huge amounts of atmospheric & oceanic pollutants into the common atmosphere & hydrosphere -- creating the climate crisis . Now they want the poor to mitigate or take care of the problem of climate change, and also negate their international legal commitments . Its just one more year -- since 2012 - when the first commitment period of the KP ends, releasing all the rich polluting countries from doing anything under legal frameworks.

In true hunting dog fashion, the lead dog is identified here as Canada -- who have indicated that they will formally leave the Kyoto Protocol , and it might not be long before the rest of the pack show up to hunt the victims -- here the LDCs, the Small Island states etc. They (AOSIS) in turn have called for a "Durban mandate to secure a legally binding agreement to reflect the outcome of the work of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA)". They are also demanding that the KP continues. Though KP has delivered very little, its still the only legal architecture which recognizes climate change as being created by rich nations and fixes responsibility on them. That is the proverbial straw the poor are trying to hold on to.

Egypt, Saudi arabi, Nigeria etc, opposed the proposal for a new Durban mandate towards a new legal framework, and wanted the existing work under the Bali Action Plan (BAP) through the AWG-LCA to be completed and to deliver its outcome, in an open-ended consultation of Parties & observers. BUT with developing countries under some economic stress, and their opportunistic reluctance to follow on Kyoto Protocol's 2nd commitment period, it is quite likely that the Kyoto Protocol will be given an un-announced burial; in Durban.

So, the world will return to the "Might Is Right" framework in respect of the grave emerging crisis of cliamte change. Not a very good prospect for a world that claims to be civilised.
Soumya Dutta

Beyond Copenhagen Coalition