Agriculture Gets No Mention in Draft Climate Agreement

Introduction

With just 40 days to the start of the keenly awaited COP21 in Paris, the draft text for a new legally binding climate agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol has been published. Once again, agriculture got no mention in this draft agreement that will guide a global response to climate change. While many of the clauses are still open to further negotiation in Paris, the battle lines are already drawn as the farming community feels agriculture risk being locked out of the global agreement. Many insist that the unique vulnerabilities of farmers, the dire consequences on food security and farmers’ livelihood, the scale and urgency of the necessary response by the sector need to be fully acknowledged and addressed more directly and decisively at the highest level. Without an overarching framework that broadly defines the scope of action on agriculture, the protracted technical agriculture negotiations currently underway within SBSTA are unlikely to ever find expression in the global agreement. In fact, some sceptics have described the agriculture negotiations as a diversionary side-show meant to keep agriculture on a parallel track with no defined mechanism for integration with the climate agreement.

Although the draft agreement emphasizes the need to align actions with the goal of promoting food security, it stops short of committing to take decisive action to protect agriculture and the millions of households across the world who depend on it for a livelihood, from the devastating impacts of climate change. Without a spirited push by farmers and their allies in Paris to get agriculture back on the agenda, the climate deal will most certainly sideline the world’s food producers.

Overall, the draft agreement stays clear of many contentious issues at the center of the negotiations, preferring to set broad institutional guidelines. The generally non-committal tone of the draft agreement is a cause for concern. Many key aspects such as financial contributions by developed nations are stated as optional, littered with escape clauses such as ‘Parties in a position to do so; Parties should strive to’. Reading between the lines one also get a lingering bias towards mitigation over adaptation which is the priority for most developing nations, setting the stage for a potentially bruising confrontation at the Paris meeting.

Extracts from key elements of the draft climate agreement (see full text at http://unfccc.int/files/bodies/awg/application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document/adp.2015.8.informalnote_msword.docx )

Purpose

The purpose of the agreement is to enhance the implementation of the Convention, strengthen and support the global response to the urgent threat of climate change by further addressing its causes and by further increasing resilience and the ability to adapt to its adverse impacts, with a view to promoting the global transformation to low-emission and climate-resilient societies and economies.

The Ambition

Parties recognize that deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are urgently required, with a view to reducing such emissions so as to hold the increase in the global average temperature below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels

Mitigation

Parties aim to reach by a date to be agreed, a peaking of global greenhouse gas emissions or zero net greenhouse gas emissions. Each Party shall regularly communicate a nationally determined mitigation contribution. Successive nationally determined mitigation commitments will be communicated every five years, unless decided otherwise by the Convention. The secretariat shall maintain in a public registry Parties’ nationally determined mitigation commitments.

Adaptation

Parties share the goal of increasing resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change, recognizing that adaptation is a challenge faced by all, with local, national, regional and international dimensions, and that it is a key component of and contribution to the long-term global response to climate change to protect people, livelihoods and ecosystems.

Parties acknowledge that adaptation action should follow a country-driven, gender-sensitive, participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems, and should be based on and guided by the best available science as well as traditional and indigenous knowledge, with a view to integrating adaptation into relevant social, economic and environmental policies and actions.

Loss and Damage

Parties acknowledge the importance of addressing loss and damage associated with climate change impacts and recognize the need for international cooperation and solidarity

Finance

Over time, all finance flows should promote the transformation to low-emission and climate resilient societies and economies. Developed country Parties and Parties in a position to do so shall provide support to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation. Developed country Parties and Parties in a position to do so shall periodically communicate information on the projected levels of public climate finance.

The mobilisation of climate finance shall be scaled up from USD 100 billion per year from 2020.

Parties should strive to balance adaptation support relative to mitigation support, bearing in mind country-driven strategies, priorities and needs, including in relation to forests, technology transfer and capacity-building. Parties should strive to improve the predictability of finance flows.

Explore options for simplifying procedures for accessing support, in particular for the LDCs and SIDS.

Technology Development and Transfer

All Parties, noting the importance of technology to support the implementation of mitigation and adaptation efforts under this Agreement and recognizing existing deployment and dissemination efforts, shall strengthen cooperative action to promote and enhance technology development and transfer, improve enabling environments for and address barriers to the dissemination and uptake of technology, and foster cooperative approaches to research and development.

Capacity Building

Capacity-building under this Agreement should facilitate the ability of Parties, particularly developing countries, to identify, design and implement adaptation and mitigation actions; facilitate technology development and the absorption of technology and finance; and facilitate the transparent, timely and accurate communication of information.

Transparency

Building on the Convention arrangements and with a view to promoting confidence and effective implementation, a [unified] [robust] transparency system covering both action and support, applicable to all Parties in a flexible manner and taking into account their differing capacities, is hereby established.

The purpose of the system for transparency of action is to:

  • Provide the clearest possible understanding of the emissions of individual Parties and of global aggregate emissions in the light of the global temperature goal;
  • Ensure clarity and tracking of progress made in implementing and achieving individual Parties’ respective nationally determined mitigation [contributions] [commitments], as well as tracking progress in implementing adaptation actions.

The purpose of the system for transparency of support is to:

  • Enhance the tracking of support provided and received;
  • Provide, to the extent possible, a full overview of support provided and received.

Each Party [shall][should] regularly provide complete and accurate information in relation to:

  • Its national inventory of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases, using comparable methodologies to be agreed on by the CMA
  • Progress made in implementing and achieving its nationally determined mitigation [contribution][commitment]
  • Information on vulnerability to climate change impacts and actions taken to build resilience and reduce vulnerability;
  • Support provided, efforts to improve domestic enabling environments, and support received, including the use, impact and estimated results thereof.

Entry into Force

This Agreement shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the date on which at least [X] number of Parties to the Convention have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with such Parties to the Convention accounting for X per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions

For further information, contact:

Dr Manyewu Mutamba Tel +27 (0)12 644 0808, E-mail mmutamba@sacau.org