The 22nd Conference of Parties, or COP22, draws to a close today in Marrakesh, Morocco. The Marrakesh conference focused on international climate action following the Paris climate agreement. One aspect of climate change receiving major attention at a COP meeting for the first time is its effects on agriculture. Climate change poses a significant threat to global food security, and the problem is expected to be worse in developing countries. In addition, unsustainable agricultural practices are a significant contributor to climate change. This makes agriculture vital to address, both from a mitigation and adaptation standpoint.

Opportunities to Address Agricultural Adaptation

Many countries recognize the important role that agriculture will have to play in addressing the causes and effects of climate change. Eighty percent of countries included agriculture as part of their mitigation goals in their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), and 64 percent included agricultural adaptation. Food security also was listed as one of the key goals of the Paris Agreement, which shows the global commitment to the problem.

African countries in particular have taken an important step to address agriculture with their Adaptation of African Agriculture (AAA) initiative. The initiative, launched in April and officially unveiled at Marrakesh, aims to direct attention, resources, and funding towards adapting agriculture for future climate. AAA aims to raise $30 billion to direct towards adaptation efforts on the continent.

If AAA is fully successful, agricultural production is expected to rise from the current levels of $280 billion across Africa to an estimated $880 billion by 2030. “The AAA initiative touches our heart, because of the opportunity it gives for South-South cooperation—there is so much to learn… we need to let this knowledge flow from one country to another,” said Eduador Mansur of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

AAA is particularly important because Africa is so uniquely vulnerable to climate change. Morocco World News reports that six of the ten most vulnerable countries to climate change are located in Africa. Despite this high vulnerability, Africa receives a relatively small percentage of international climate funding, and only a portion of that is focused on agriculture.

Fundraising Efforts Are Falling Short

Failures to raise needed international climate funds could threaten AAA’s ambitious fundraising goal. So far, developed countries have contributed only one-fifth of the needed amount to start the global climate fund. The United States has only delivered $500 million of the pledged three billion dollars. Without needed financing, these adaptation projects will be impossible to achieve.

“It is a priority of this COP22 presidency to mobilize finance as this is really becoming a necessity and an emergency,” said Salaheddine Mezouar, president of the Marrakesh conference and foreign minister of Morocco.

Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, chair of the Least Developed Countries group, described the current finance situation as “very, very worrisome. If you have to make agriculture resilient, build a sea wall or ensure that diseases don’t spread, there is no money-making rationale behind it. That is why public money is needed.”

Biofuels at Marrakesh

In addition to planned adaptation efforts, countries are planning to use agriculture to mitigate climate change through the continued use of biofuels. On Wednesday at Marrakesh, 20 countries signed on to the Biofuture Platform, a collaboration intended to advance the use of bio-based options for fuels, chemicals, plastics and more. The countries involved include heavy emitters China, India, and the United States, as well as several members of the European Union.

“Transportation has, so far, been one of the most challenging sectors for mitigation,” said Sarney Filho, Minister of Environment of Brazil. “In the face of the urgency of fighting climate change, countries cannot afford to ignore the largely underestimated potential of bioenergy, especially in the face of new technological developments which are opening the door to a whole new low-carbon bioeconomy as an alternative to fossil-based fuels, chemicals and materials.”

Author: Rebecca Chillrud

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