Later on in 2011, international climate change negotiators will meet in Africa to look back on the famine which is now sweeping the eastern parts of that continent, and make predictions that climate change will be largely injurious to Africa’s future food production.
The World Bank’s special envoy on climate change, Andrew Steer, told The Associated Press:
“The challenges are overwhelming… Africa needs to triple food production by 2050…At the same time, you’ve got climate change lowering average yields …. So, of course, we need something different.”
He hopes for a refocused look at agriculture to take place at the talks that are to be held in South Africa’s eastern city of Durban, the first talks in Africa since Nairobi hosted a round in 2006. South Africa says that as chair of the Durban conference, it will alert the industrializing nations to deliver money and technology to help developing countries in Africa to create clean industries and cope with the droughts and floods.
Africa is hard hit by the effects of climate change and needs more money for managing water and creating seeds for food crops which can withstand droughts and floods.
Researchers with the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that global agriculture accounts for 14 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than transportation’s 13 percent and almost at the industry’s 19 percent. Farming’s contribution to global warming possibly might offset techniques to store and sequester more and more carbon in soil and trees.
Sequestering carbon is good for the environment and has even yielded increases.
“You invest in things that are good for yields, good for resilience and also sequester more carbon…You can have it both ways if you get carbon back in soils.”
Steer says it is hard to determine exactly how much money is needed, and cautioned that while agreements on helping poor countries and a focus on agriculture could emerge at Durban.
Durban isn’t “a pledging session”, mind you, said Mr. Steer on the sidelines of a climate change conference on farming which attracted agriculture ministers from across Africa to Johannesburg.
In a speech which opened the Johannesburg conference, South African agriculture minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said that “Food security, poverty and climate are closely linked and should not be considered separately.”