Peasant agriculture: a real solution to climate change

La Via Campesina mobilized in Durban during UN climate talks

Radio Mundo Real

International movement Via Campesina is demanding that agriculture be left out of the climate multilateral talks in Durban and for an ambitious agreement with legally binding emissions reduction targets for developed countries.

The peasants are calling a march on December 5 in Durban to promote peasant agriculture, agroecology and for food sovereignty.

“We are concerned that the Kyoto Protocol has not been useful, it is not being useful to reduce emissions” Alberto Gomez, a leader of La Via Campesina told Real World Radio.

“Industrialized countries should be legally bound to reduce their emissions and that should be part of another agreement. We need an agreement with clear targets, with at least 30% of emissions reduction (compared to 1990 levels)”, said the leader. “Without such a target the agreement is not good, a binding agreement with no commitments that will lead to a 2, 3 or 4° temperature increase is no good for Humanity”, he said about the Kyoto Protocol.

The peasants said that “no deal is better than a bad deal” in Durban. They demand the compliance with the “Peoples Agreement” that came out of the World Conference of the Peoples for Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights, held in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in April of 2010. The Peoples’ Agreement demands developed nations to commit to quantified emissions reduction targets under the Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol (2013-2017), and it provides that the reductions should be of at least 50% compared with the 1990 levels.

The goal is to limit the average temperature increase to a maximum level of 1°C. The document also points out that industrialized countries should recognize and honor their climate debt.

Gomez expressed his concern over the possibility that agriculture is included in the talks at the COP and that carbon markets are extended to agriculture activities as well. “It is serious and dangerous”, he said. He highlighted agroecology as one of the flags raised by La Via Campesina in the fight against climate change “as a more advanced stage of our peasant agriculture”.

Gomez regretted the fact that “most governments of the global South continue to answer to the interests of powerful countries and transnational corporations. We will have to speak up and say it in different ways so that they actually understand that they need to discuss about real solutions. Peasant farming is an alternative, it is a real solution and it should not be considered as a way to do business and make profit”.

According to data of the Mexican leader, over 50% of the food of the world is produced by peasants in a sustainable way. “We like taking care of our soils” he said “we are necessary, we are a reserve for the future of humanity with this type of agriculture that is harmless to the soil”.

Gomez said La Via Camepsina has already managed to introduce the political concept of food sovereignty and that it needs to pressure so that each country will implement specific public policies that promote peasant agriculture and make food sovereignty possible and guarantee peasant rights. “We now need that progressive countries that are closer to the peasant struggles begin a discussion that will allow to develop state policies for food sovereignty”, he said.