Monthly Archives: December 2011

Climate Smart Agriculture and carbon markets will be a disaster for Africa: Groups warn against Zuma’s agriculture prize at COP17

Gaia Foundation, African Biodiversity Network (ABN), Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) & EcoNexus

South African president Jacob Zuma has declared his intention to have a decision on Agriculture at
the UN COP17 climate negotiations in Durban; while the World Bank is promoting so-called “Climate
Smart Agriculture” and carbon offsets as the future of African agriculture and climate solutions.

But civil society groups in Durban are concerned that this vision for African agriculture will lead to
land grabs, farmer poverty and food insecurity, and only worsen global climate change.

Teresa Anderson of the Gaia Foundation says “An agreement on Agriculture at COP17 would
supposedly be a consolation prize to Africa for failure on legally binding targets – but the consolation
prize is a poisoned chalice. It will lead to land grabs and deliver African farmers into the hands of
fickle carbon markets.”

“This is a diversion, and a betrayal of the real need to reduce emissions. It will only worsen climate
change and food insecurity.” Adds Helena Paul of EcoNexus.

Simon Mwamba of the East African Small Scale Farmers’ Federation explains: “Climate Smart
Agriculture is being presented as sustainable agriculture – but the term is so broad that we fear it is
a front for promoting industrial, ‘green revolution’ agriculture too, which traps farmers into cycles of
debt and poverty.”

Anne Maina of the African Biodiversity Network adds “Climate Smart Agriculture comes packaged
with carbon offsets. Soil carbon markets could open the door to offsets for GM crops and large-scale
biochar land grabs, which would be a disaster for Africa. Africa is already suffering from a land grab
epidemic – the race to control soils for carbon trading could only make this worse.”

The current collapse of carbon markets will mean that offsets will fail to provide money for African
agriculture and farmers.

“There is no money for agriculture in Africa from carbon offsets. The financial structure of Climate
Smart Agriculture is built on evaporating carbon markets. Carbon markets are in collapse, and
projects will have unreliable and inadequate finance.” Adds Steve Suppan of IATP.

More than 100 African and international civil society groups have written to African
ministers imploring them to reject agriculture carbon markets. (View the letter at http://
nosoilcarbonmarkets.wordpress.com )

World Bank & developed country plans for Agriculture carbon markets a threat to Africa – Lessons from Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt Movement

Wednesday 7th December 2011, COP17, Durban

The Gaia Foundation, The Green Belt Movement, EcoNexus

At the UN Climate Change negotiations in Durban this week, the World Bank and developed countries are claiming that agriculture carbon offsets will bring money for African agriculture. 

But civil society groups are worried that carbon offsets in agriculture will threaten African farmers and farming systems. 100+ civil society groups have signed a letter asking African negotiators to reject soil carbon markets.  They point to the collapse of the carbon markets and warn that carbon markets can open the door to land grabs and the establishment of industrial agricultural systems which threaten small-scale farmers’ livelihoods. 

“But the World Bank is fighting back,” says Helena Paul of EcoNexus. “It seems determined to massively expand carbon markets by linking agriculture with REDD, using what the Bank calls the ‘landscape approach’, under the guise of so-called ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’. This implies putting all land into the carbon markets. The Bank is also launching new investor initiatives in Durban today.”

Teresa Anderson of the Gaia Foundation adds: “Developed country big guns from the US, Canada, Australia & New Zealand are loudly mouthing empty rhetoric about the need to address agriculture in the negotiations for Africa’s sake. But their claims that they are merely passionate about research into agroforestry, and Africa’s agricultural adaptation needs, are highly suspicious.  The World Bank’s aggressive push for a ‘mitigation programme of work on agriculture’ at the UN climate negotiations echoes the same rhetoric of saving Africa, but is a Trojan horse to bring in carbon offsets based on farmers’ soils.  Soil carbon offsets will promote a new spate of African land grabs, and put farmers under the control of fickle carbon markets.”

Doreen Stabinsky of Institute for Africulture and Trade Policy (IATP) points out that “The World Bank has paid for a series of meetings over the past year, designed to build support for soil carbon markets. They even paid the costs for a meeting of African Agriculture ministers in Johannesburg in September. Observers are left wondering why the Bank is investing so much money merely to get a statement from the COP to create a work programme on agriculture.  The Bank’s agenda is clearly an agenda of a carbon broker and trader — who makes his money on volume, not quality. More carbon for markets — including soil carbon — very simply means more money for the Bank and carbon project developers. This is about neither poverty alleviation, nor development.”

The organisation of the late Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, have launched a new report to share their experiences piloting a forest carbon project with the World Bank.  Professor Njoroge Karanja , Acting Director of GBM, warns that there are many lessons to be learned for other African projects and local communities considering carbon offsetting.  “Poor communities are greatly disadvantaged as the rules for implementation result in high costs for project development.   The lack of upfront funding, and the need to wait many years before payment for offsets, shuts out almost all the grassroots communities whose involvement is critical to the long-term sustainability of the projects.  If we continue with carbon offsetting – where polluters are able to offset their emissions through buying credits – Africa, Asia and South America will become hewers of wood and drawers of water. We need clear identifiable indicators of reduction of emissions from the major polluters before they can enter the carbon buying market in the south.”