Case Studies Highlight UN FAO Climate Smart Agriculture Report
A publication issued by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) aims to provide the best FAO-led examples of how Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach that can be universally applied but, rather, involves different elements embedded in local contexts.
Case studies detailed in the publication show how the management of farms, crops, livestock and aquaculture can balance short- and long-term food security needs with priorities for the farmer/ producer, as well as build adaption to climate change and contribute to mitigating GHG.
By definition, CSA pursues three goals: to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and improve farmers’ incomes; to build farmers’ resilience to climate change and help them find ways to adapt; and to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
“Climate-Smart Agriculture: Case Studies 2018,” underscores the clear need to make decisions with the climate in mind, FAO officials say.
“Agriculture is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters, but it is also one of the climate’s greatest allies,” says Rima Al-Azar, FAO Global Climate Governance coordinator and Climate Smart Agriculture team leader. “The agriculture sector can play a large role in mitigation by reducing emissions and avoiding further loss of carbon stored in forests and soil. Keeping soils and forests healthy also helps fight climate change as both of these act as ‘sinks’ that sequester carbon.
“Lastly,” Al-Azar said, “reducing food loss and waste and advocating for better food consumption patterns are other important efforts within agriculture’s sphere of influence.”
Officials say more than three-quarters of the world’s poor live in rural areas and many of them depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. CSA, which is an approach that helps to transform and reorient agricultural systems to ensure food security and support rural development in a changing climate, focuses on the farmer, fisher or herder.
“It is these rural people, particularly in developing countries, who are hit the hardest by climate change,” Al-Azar said. “Our agricultural and food systems are bearing the brunt of higher temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events. “
The five case studies detailed in the publication demonstrate successful FAO initiatives to benefit farming communities and work towards one of the UN’s global sustainable development goals – combatting climate change and its impacts.
Climate work cited in the case studies include the “re-greening” of the Sahel region of Africa, the stemming of flooding in Bangladesh, efforts to promote greater indigenous pig production in the western Balkans, climate-smart mussel farming in Chile, and an FAO initiative to bring together government efforts in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) to end severe shortages of water.
The outcomes of these climate-smart projects have created a better understanding of the potential accelerators and barriers for the adoption of this type of agriculture, the FAO says.
To read the complete report, click HERE.
World Bank Report Offers Multi-Nation Assessment of CSA
The World Bank has issued a report its authors say is the first in a
Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) Country Profile Series aimed at assessing climate change challenges and solutions in the agricultural sector.
The report – Bringing the Concept of Climate-Smart Agriculture to Life – introduces the first analysis of a new dataset drawn from the profiles of more than 30 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), aggregating bottom-up results from individual expert assessments of CSA technologies.
The report offers the most complete overview to date of technologies considered climate-smart around the world. The emerging insights shed light on technologies in different locations and farming systems, their strengths and weaknesses across different dimensions of climate-smartness, and their specific barriers to adoption.
The authors say the result is a more concrete and specific picture of CSA that could help demystify the concept, reveal synergies between the three CSA pillars (productivity, adaptation, and mitigation), and allow for more targeted technology deployment and scale-up.
“Climate change’s negative impacts on agriculture are already being felt around the world, in the form of more frequent extreme weather events that affect crops and livestock and disrupt food production,” the report says.
Noting agriculture’s contributions to climate change (estimated at between 19 and 29 percent of emissions), the report says CSA aims to better integrate agricultural development and climate-responsiveness.
CSA “is an integrated approach to managing landscapes -such as cropland, livestock, forests and fisheries – that aims to achieve increased and sustainable productivity, enhanced resilience and reduced emissions.”
Drawing on the country profiles, the report offers an overview of nearly 300 climate-smart production systems that are being used across different locations and farming systems. The publication also provides insights into where, how and what CSA technologies make the biggest difference, the factors that account for ‘climate-smartness’ and the biggest barriers to CSA adoption.
Principal findings of the report include:
- Technologies considered ‘climate-smart’ vary across regions, are incredibly diverse and reflect the context-specificity of opportunities, constraints and vulnerabilities. There is considerable scope to tailor CSA to individual farmers’ needs.
- While CSA is diverse, just five technology clusters – water management, crop tolerance to stress, intercropping, organic inputs and conservation agriculture – account for almost 50 percent of all CSA technologies identified by experts as climate-smart across the 33 countries covered by the climate-smart profiles.
- Most technologies considered climate-smart demonstrate synergies between productivity, adaptation, and mitigation, revealing opportunities for co-benefits and potential “triple-wins.”
- The lack of training and information was identified as the single largest barrier to CSA adoption across all regions. Investments in capacity building and knowledge dissemination for farmers, experts, and decision makers are critical for ensuring the widespread adoption of CSA. A weak enabling environment – including unfavorable policies, lack of access to input and output markets and inefficient risk management systems – as well as insufficient economic resources were identified as other barriers to CSA adoption.
- There is no one-size fits-all CSA solution. CSA implementation is most effective when it goes beyond the farm plot level and is applied in an integrated way that takes into account competing sectoral priorities, the cumulative effect of combined CSA technologies and the potential for transformational change.
In addition to the World Bank, other organizations collaborating on the report include the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
2018 Farm Bill Offers Programs Important to Climate Smart Ag
President Trump signed into law last month a five-year farm bill that offers a wide number of programs and incentives that are important tools in the pursuit of climate smart agriculture, including a new initiative that will promote and document the benefits of farming practices that improve soil health.
Both houses of Congress passed the $867-billion measure, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, by wide, bipartisan margins.
The bill lays out federal farm policy through 2023 and provides for an Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) that can be used to take advantage of land-based climate solutions offered by agriculture, keeping working landscapes vital while reducing carbon emissions.
The pilot EQIP program encourages farmers to implement and document the true greenhouse benefits of crop production, which can make a meaningful impact in the fight against climate change. The EQIP provision will incentivize farmers to adopt smart soil management practices that improve soil health to increase drought resiliency, improve nutrient utilization and enhance soil carbon sequestration.
Underlining the significance of this EQIP provision was its endorsement by a wide range of organizations, including NACSAA members the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). In addition to the program’s potential environmental benefits, advocates see it as offering an economic value which, if realized, will properly credit farmers for their ability to sequester carbon and participate in low carbon fuel markets.
The final bill dropped House efforts to gut longstanding Energy Title programs, continuing mandatory funding for a number of important programs to help diversify rural economies that have seen revenues fall for five years and promote alternatives to fossil-fuel-driven energy.
For example, the legislation continues significant mandatory funding ($50 million annually) for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which helps install renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy storage technologies on farms, ranches and in rural businesses. The Biomass Crop Assistance Program, which promotes the growth and harvesting of switchgrass and other feedstocks for cellulosic ethanol, was reauthorized, as was a program that can potentially grow the number of commercially viable bio-based alternatives to petroleum-based fuels, chemicals, plastics and other products.
The latter two programs, however, were provided with no mandatory funding and will be paid for at the discretion of budget writers in Congress.
The final bill also retains the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which enables producers to better protect water resources and soil quality, while earning payments for cover crops, resource-conserving crop rotations, and management-intensive rotational grazing. The final farm legislation rejects a House attempt to kill the CSP and, instead, incorporates Senate language that improves it.
Investors Call on World Leaders to Address ‘Ambition Gap’
More than 400 global investors, with $32 trillion in assets-under-management, used the COP24 climate talks in Poland last month to call on governments around the world to step up action to address climate change.
The groups are behind the call-to-action as signatories of the 2018 Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change, which represents the single largest policy intervention from investors on the issue.
The statement highlights three overarching priorities investors say global leaders must address: achieving the Paris Agreement’s goals; accelerating private sector investment into the low carbon transition and committing to improve climate-related financial reporting.
Investors signing the statement include some of the world’s largest pension funds, asset managers and insurance companies, alongside faith-based groups, state treasurers and comptrollers, impact investors and venture capital funds.
The statement asks governments to strengthen their Nationally Determined Contributions, specific targets set by nations in 2015 to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and to enact policies to facilitate the world’s transition to a low-carbon economy.
Among specific policies, the investors request governments “phase out thermal coal power”, “put a meaningful price on carbon” and “phase out fossil fuel subsidies.”
Investors highlight the “ambition gap” the UN has determined exists between governments’ commitments and what is needed to deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement – in limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius – and ensuring the necessary transition to a low-carbon economy.
They stress their “great concern” about the gap, noting consequences of an otherwise “unacceptably high temperature increase” and “substantial negative economic impacts.”
Without greater action, investment firm Schroders, which is a signatory to the statement, points to long-run temperature rises of around 4 degrees Celsius, with $23 trillion of associated global economic losses over the next 80 years – a permanent economic damage up to four times the scale of the impacts of the 2008 global financial crisis.
The signatories describe their own efforts to invest in climate solutions and low carbon assets, but add: “The global shift to clean energy is underway, but much more needs to be done by governments to accelerate the low carbon transition and to improve the resilience of our economy, society and the financial system to climate risks.”
The intervention comes as findings of a recent U.N. report show that nations must triple their efforts to meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement. Only weeks earlier, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 1.5°C Special Report showed that considerable additional emission reductions are achievable, delivering significant benefit to society and the climate.
The investors say the process for governments to increase ambition of their climate commitments is built into the design of the Paris Agreement, calling on nations to start the process this year.
For more information on the statement, click HERE.
Meteorological Study Links Weather Extremes to Climate Change
The U.S. Northern Plains and East Africa droughts of 2017, floods in South America, China and Bangladesh, and heatwaves in China and the Mediterranean were all made more likely by human-caused climate change, according to
new research recently published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS).
The seventh edition of the report, “Explaining Extreme Events in 2017 from a Climate Perspective,” also includes analyses of ocean heat events, such as intense marine heatwaves in the Tasman Sea off of Australia in 2017 and 2018 that were “virtually impossible” without human-caused climate change. Also included are analyses of Australian fires and Uruguayan flooding.
This is the second year that scientists have identified extreme weather events that they said could not have happened without warming of the climate through human-induced climate change.
“These attribution studies are telling us that a warming Earth is continuing to send us new and more extreme weather events every year,” said Jeff Rosenfeld, Editor in Chief of BAMS. “The message of this science is that our civilization is increasingly out of sync with our changing climate.”
The report presents 17 peer-reviewed analyses of extreme weather across six continents and two oceans during 2017. It features the research of 120 scientists from 10 countries looking at both historical observations and model simulations to determine whether and by how much climate change may have influenced particular extreme events.
BAMS Special Editor Martin Hoerling, a NOAA research meteorologist, said that while the events studied in this issue spanned six continents and a calendar year, what became clear is they are intimately connected.
“These studies confirm predictions of the 1990 First IPCC report, which foresaw that radical departures from 20th century weather and climate would be happening now,” Hoerling said. “Scientific evidence supports increasing confidence that human activity is driving a variety of extreme events now. These are having large economic impacts across the United States and around the world.”
Significant findings from this year’s report on 2017’s extreme weather can be found HERE.
The extreme weather events studied in the seven annual issues of the report were selected by researchers and do not represent a comprehensive analysis of events during that span. About 70 percent of the 146 research findings published in this series identified a substantial link between an extreme event and climate change; about 30 percent did not.
This year the report also goes beyond publishing attribution studies assessing the role of human- caused climate changes in extreme weather. The editors asked managers and planners in various sectors of society to reflect on the use of attribution science in preparing for future climate risks. Perspective essays on the importance of climate attribution science for managing water storage systems, planning for sea level rise and assigning legal liability after extreme weather events are included.
The perspectives underscore the need for climate scientists to work with decision makers to identify climate change effects on precisely defined risks that matter in high-stakes decisions.
“A decade ago, we were focused on continental-scale, months-long extremes,” Rosenfeld said. “Now researchers are often going after more local risks like heatwaves, fire danger, and floods on scales of a few days, for pinpointed areas of extreme impacts. In barely a decade, the research focus has evolved enough to address a wider scope of societal challenges.”
Scientific Support EPA Endangerment Even Stronger: Study
Scientific evidence supporting the EPA’s 2009 Endangerment Finding for greenhouse gases is even stronger and more conclusive now, according to a
study published by Sciencelast month. The finding could strengthen challenges to proposed efforts to rollback emissions standards and carbon emissions regulations in the United States.
In the landmark Endangerment Finding, EPA determined that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, which created a legal obligation for the agency to regulate greenhouse gases emissions under the Clean Air Act. The paper comes three months after a senior Republican senator said that the Trump Administration might still try to repeal the landmark decision.
“When the Endangerment Finding was issued, the evidence supporting it was extremely compelling,” said Woods Hole Research Center President Philip Duffy, lead author on the paper. “Now, that evidence is even stronger and more comprehensive. There’s no scientific basis for questioning the endangerment finding.”
The paper includes 16 authors from 15 different organizations. It assesses how the scientific evidence has changed in the nine years since the finding was issued, with a specific focus on climate change impacts for public health, air quality, agriculture, forestry, water resources, sea level rise, energy, infrastructure, wildlife, ocean acidification, social instability, and the economy.
“There is no question that public health and welfare are endangered by climate change and we know that with much more confidence now than we did in 2009,” said study co-author Chris Field, director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.
The paper examines each topic covered by the Endangerment Finding and characterizes changes since 2009 in terms of evidence of links to anthropogenic climate change, severity of observed and projected impacts, and new risks.
“For each of the areas addressed in the [Endangerment Finding], the amount, diversity, and sophistication of the evidence has increased dramatically, clearly strengthening the case for endangerment,” according to the paper.
The study expands the range of negative impacts from climate change beyond those listed in 2009 to include increased dangers from ocean acidification, effects on national security and economic well-being, and even threats from violence.
“Much of what we’ve learned since the original Endangerment Finding in 2009 arises from extreme events,” said study co-author Noah Diffenbaugh, Kara J Foundation Professor of Earth System Science and Kimmelman Family Senior Fellow at Stanford University. “Our understanding of how global warming influences the odds of heat waves, droughts, heavy precipitation, storm surge flooding, and wildfires has increased dramatically in the last decade, as has our understanding of the related impacts, such as how hot conditions affect mental health, violence, and economic productivity.”
Global Fossil Fuel Emissions Climbed for Second Straight Year
Global fossil fuel emissions are on track to rise for a second year in a row, primarily due to growing energy use, according to new estimates from the Global Carbon Project, an initiative led by Stanford University scientist Rob Jackson.
The new projections came early in December just as international negotiators gathered in Katowice, Poland, to work out rules for implementing the Paris climate agreement. Under the 2015 accord, hundreds of nations pledged to cut carbon emissions and keep global warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures.
“We thought, perhaps hoped, emissions had peaked a few years ago,” said Jackson, a professor of Earth system science in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “After two years of renewed growth, that was wishful thinking.”
The Global Carbon Project’s report, titled “Global Energy Growth Is Outpacing Decarbonization,” appeared Dec. 5 in the peer-reviewed Environmental Research Letters, with more detailed data published simultaneously in Earth System Science Data.
The group estimates global carbon dioxide(CO2) emissions from fossil fuel sources – which represent roughly 90 percent of all emissions from human activities – reached a record high of just over 37 billion tons in 2018, an increase of 2.7 percent over emissions output in 2017. That compares to 1.6 percent growth a year earlier. Emissions from non-fossil sources, such as deforestation, are projected to add nearly 4.5 billion tons of carbon emissions to the 2018 total.
“Global energy demand is outpacing powerful growth in renewables and energy efficiency,” said Jackson. “The clock is ticking in our struggle to keep warming below 2 degrees.”
In the United States, emissions of CO2 are projected to increase 2.5 percent in 2018 after a decade of declines. Factors promoting the increase include unusual weather – a cold winter in Eastern states and a warm summer across much of the nation ramped up energy needs for seasonal heating and cooling – as well as a growing appetite for oil in the face of low gas prices.
The United States produces far more CO2 emissions per person compared to the rest of the world.
Consumption of one fossil fuel, however, is no longer on the rise: coal. The study shows coal consumption in Canada and the United States has dropped 40 percent since 2005. In 2018 the United States is expected to take a record-setting 15 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity offline.
Yet the study shows renewables around the world are largely coming online as add-ons to fossil fuel energy sources – particularly natural gas – rather than replacements. “It isn’t enough for renewables to grow,” Jackson said. “They need to displace fossil fuels. So far, that’s happening for coal but not for oil or natural gas.”