Update from Paris
(December 10th 2015)
The much-anticipated climate talks are wrapping up in Paris. At the start of these two weeks of negotiations and events, we said that to succeed we need to understand how big picture issues like global political conflict, the international immigration crisis, trade, and agriculture are all intimately tied to the climate. We also said that though we need to invest in appropriate technology, we also need to be cautious of profit-generating high-tech solutions proposed by large multinational corporations, often promoted under sustainability banners such as “climate smart agriculture.” Often the solutions are inexpensive and relatively simple, like an investment in regenerative agro-ecology and restoring soil while taking carbon out of the atmosphere.
As we wrap up the COP21, we can report at least partial success. The role of the agriculture sector and especially soil did receive some attention both at the negotiations and in mainstream media coverage and editorials. Unfortunately the U.S. has not yet made a specific commitment to put carbon back in the soil, even though doing so both restores soils and takes carbon out of the atmosphere. (Read more about what the initiative to commit to carbon soil restoration means.)
The gravity of the current crises and the changing weather patterns was broadly acknowledged at the official level and especially at events organized by climate justice activists.
But not all the news is good. Some of the false solutions we warned about have been introduced and some of the most marginalized groups most impacted already by climate change feel largely excluded. For example, Indigenous groups have staged a series of actions and protests.
And as we’ve already reported, any progress that is made this week could be undermined or completely undone by pending free trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). This and other agreements not only favor the industrial food and agriculture system that is a major contributor to climate change, these agreements are predicted to further marginalize small-scale farmers and give corporations the power to sue local communities who attempt to implement policies to increase food sovereignty and decrease climate change.
Even if progress is made this week in formalizing commitments to reduce climate change and put promising solutions like organic agro-ecology in the forefront, there will still be work to be done.
To make any progress on climate change, we must oppose the TPP as it is currently written.
Next, we must continue to advocate for global and local adaptation and mitigation solutions that protect and empower marginalized communities, especially small-scale farmers. These solutions must not only benefit these groups, but include them in their formation and implementation. As one banner in the Climate Action Center in Paris reads, “We have the solutions.” So many communities have solutions, now they need a voice.
We know that the road ahead is long, but this is an opportunity to transition to a more just economy that puts people before profits.
Posted on: December 10th 2015