Stop! The UNFCCC is going off the rails!

Via Campesina Call to mobilise for a Cool Planet – Copenhagen December 2009

Don't trade off Peasant's agriculture for rights to pollute

While scientific predictions of climate catastrophe continue to grow, world leaders will gather in Copenhagen on 7-18 December 2009 for the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The solutions being discussed by the UNFCCC continue to allow big energy consumers to pollute with impunity while paying others to implement projects supposed to capture carbon. The Kyoto protocol and the market mechanisms it implemented have failed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to slow down climate changes(1).

Notwithstanding the urgency of the situation, this convention has failed to radically question the current models of consumption and production based on the illusion of continuous growth. Instead, they have invented new business opportunities for the private sector to continue to make huge profits at the expense of the destruction of the planet. Carbon has become a new privatised commodity in the hands of speculators who use it as a new product in the non-real economy that has lead to the current economic crisis.

Agriculture is now at the centre of the climate talks. According to the statistics, agricultural practices contributed about 17 per cent of global emissions between 1990 and 2005. Moreover, the increased pressure on agricultural land is likely to be one of the main drivers of deforestation, an other major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.(2) Actually, forest destruction as well as environment degradation from the agricultural sector mainly come from industrial agriculture. Large agribusiness extensions and vast monocultures make an intensive use of oil-based chemical fertilisers, pesticides and machinery, they convert carbon-rich forest and prairie into green deserts and they are based on a long and unnecessary chain of secondary processing and transport links.

On the other hand, small scale sustainable family farming is a key solution to Climate Change. It contributes to cooling down the earth and plays a vital part in the relocalisation of economies which will allow us to live in a sustainable society. Sustainable local food production uses less energy, eliminates dependence on imported animal feedstuffs and retains carbon in the soil while increasing biodiversity. Native seeds are more adaptable to the changes in climate which are already affecting us. Family farming does not only contribute positively to the carbon balance of the planet, it also gives employment to 2,8 billion of people(3) – women and men – around the world and it remains the best way to combat hunger, malnutrition and the current food crisis. If small farmers are given access to land, water, education and health and are supported by food sovereignty policies they will keep feeding the world and protecting the planet.

For peasants around the world, the false solutions proposed in the climate talks, such as the REDD initiative (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), the carbon offsetting mechanisms and geo-engineering projects are as threatening as the draughts, tornadoes and new climate patterns themselves. Other proposals such as the biochar initiative, no till agriculture and climate resistant GMOs are the proposals of agribusinesses and will further marginalise small farmers. The heavy promotion of industrial monoculture plantations and agrofuels as solutions to the crisis actually increase pressure on agricultural land. It has already led to massive land grabbing by transnational companies in developing countries, kicking farmers and indigenous communities out of their territories.

It is unfair to use the benefits that small farmers provide to the environment as an excuse to keep polluting as usual. The UNFCCC is currently discussing mechanisms to include agricultural land in carbon trading mechanisms, a move that could leave farmers with no other support than dirty money from polluters. These mechanisms are bound to fail, because they are not focused on reducing use of fossil fuels or reducing emissions in industrialised countries.

Therefore La Via Campesina calls all its members, friends and allies to mobilise in Copenhagen and around the world during the UNFCCC conference in December 2009. A special action day on agriculture will be declared as part of the mass protests by hundreds of social movements and organisations.

Towards Copenhagen: What you can do at national and local level

  1. Collect data and information related to the impact of climate change on small farmer agriculture and small farmer livelihood

  2. Collect data and information related to the impact of market based solutions/ false solutions to climate change on small farmer

  3. Bring information from the grass-roots level on how small farmers' agriculture has been conserving ecosystems.

  4. Persuade your government to reject market-based and pro-business “solutions” and to promote real solutions to the current crisis such as the protection of small scale sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty.

  5. Join the mobilisation! Together with other social movement we will participate in various parallel activities in September in Bangkok during the UNFCCC last preparatory meeting towards Copenhagen.We will also mobilise for social and climate justice during the expected WTO meeting and the FAO food Summit in October/November 2009.

We reject the false business solutions of the UNFCCC!

We demand an urgent reorientation of the world's economy towards a people – centred economy where peasant's agriculture and local food systems play a major role.

People and the planet are more important than profit!

Don't make business out of an environmental catastrophe!

Small scale family farming and food sovereignty cools down the earth!

(1) Peter Atherton of Citigroup who was heavily involved in Carbon Trading has said about the world's biggest Carbon market – “ The European Emissions Trading Scheme has done nothing to curb emissions…Have policy goals been achieved? Prices up, emissions up, profits up…so no, not really” . (Citigroup Global Markets (2007), quoted in L. Lohmann in Governance as Corruption, presentation, Athens, November 2008;

(2) Address by Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change , 14 May 2009

(3) Le Monde, 23 April 2009.