Wednesday, December 16, 2009

NGOs excluded from Climate Talks • Via Campesina: Sustainable Agriculture Cools the Earth

Via Campesina members in Copenhagen. (Photo: Via Campesina)

Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth, Tck Tck Tck, Avaaz, Indigenous Environmental Network, and other NGOS representing tens of millions of people across the world have been shut out of the Bella Center talks by the UN.

Via Campesina is an international organization of small farmers, indigenous people, rural youth and agricultural workers from Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Africa. Friends of the Earth International is the largest international environmental federation in the world with groups in more than 70 countries. TckTckTck is a global alliance of environmental, social justice, church and human rights groups. Avaaz is a web-based pressure group which has organised thousands of climate meetings around the world.

The Guardian reported:
"So many people are being excluded. The process is farcical. Civil society is being shut up, developing countries are being shut up, critical voices are being shut up," said Nicola Bullard, working with Focus on The Global South, a member of the climate justice movement.

"There's a lot of frustration among civil society that we are not moving quickly enough. There are obstructionist tactics. There are debates and arguments. As civil society we feel that they don't care," said Tom Goldtooth, a Bolivian with the Indigeous Environmental Network. "We feel they are negotiating for the sake of corporations instead of for the betterment of the people of the world."
Conflict over climate justice issues is taking place between those who want binding commitments, and enforcement mechanisms, and those who don’t; the poor countries who want help addressing global warming, and the rich polluter countries focused on short-term profits for their own companies rather than our shared planetary future; and NGOs who want to cap carbon emissions immediately and those who don't.

In a speech at the opening session of Klimaforum, Henry Saragih, general coordinator of Via Campesina, the small farmers' movement, blamed industrial agriculture in large part for global warming. (The Union of Concerned Scientists documents the hidden costs and energy inefficiencies of industrial agriculture in this report).

Saragih provided a breakdown in data and warned that neo-liberal trading practices as usual are the culptrit: data that has come out clearly shows that industrial agriculture and the globalized food system are responsible of between 44 and 57% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. This figure can be broken down as follows (i) Agricultural activities are responsible for 11 to 15%, (ii) Land clearing and deforestation cause an additional 15 to 18%, (iii) Food processing, packing and transportation cause 15 to 20%, and (iv) Decomposition of organic waste causes another 3 to 4%. It means that our current food system is a major polluter.

The question we have to answer now is: how do we solve the climate chaos, hunger and assure a better livelihood for farmers, when the agricultural sector itself is contributing more than half of the total emissions?

We believe that it is the industrial and agribusiness model of agriculture that is at the root of the problem, because those percentages that I mentioned earlier come from the deforestation and the conversion of natural forests into monoculture plantations, all of which is being carried out by Agribusiness Corporations. Not by familly farmers. Such large emissions of methane by agriculture are also due to the use of urea as a petrochemical fertilizer through the green revolution, very much supported by the World Bank. At the same time, agricultural trade liberalization promoted by free trade agreements (FTA) and by the World Trade Organization (WTO) is contributing to the greenhouse gases emissions due to food processing and food transportation around the world.
The only way to stop global warming is to return to a sustainable, small-scale, humane, global agricultural model:
If we genuinely want to tackle the climate change crisis, the only way we have to go forward is to stop industrial agriculture. Agribusiness has not only highly contributed to the climate crisis, it has also massacred the small farmers of the world. Millions of farmers, men and women from around the world, have been kicked off their land. Millions of others suffer violence every year because of land conflicts in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Small farmers and landless farmers make up the majority of the more than 1 billion hungry people in the world. And because of free trade, many small farmers commit suicide in South Asia. So putting an end to industrial agriculture is the only way we can go.

No comments: