Imagine that you live in a village in Africa, say Niger. Your family has been farming the same plot for generations. It’s never been easy. But recently it seems to have become even more difficult. The weather seems more variable, the rainfall less predictable, yields more uncertain, prices more volatile.
Now imagine one, two, three or five decades from now. How goes farming in your village?
It could be much worse─more droughts, worse floods, lower yields, lower incomes. Quite possibly the village hasn’t been able to survive.
Or it could be much better. Stronger soils, better yields, more predictable harvests, more varied and nutritious crops, and cash flows each year to the farmer for sequestering more carbon on his land.
Which of these happens is a choice.
It depends on our decisions on two things: whether the world as a whole decides to lower carbon emissions by at least 50% by 2050. And what we all do to support that farmer and the system of farming around the world.
As I write this there are 1000 people from 100 countries spending a week in The Hague in the Netherlands discussing this second issue. The Dutch Government and the World Bank have organized a conference─called “Down2Earth”─just four weeks prior to Cancun in order to give momentum to a subject that has been often neglected in the climate debate. Farmers are under the greatest threat from climate change, but they could also play a major role in addressing it. Agriculture accounts for nearly 15% of global carbon emissions, with deforestation and forest degradation accounting for as much again.