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Animal. 2013 Jun;7 Suppl 2:206-11. doi: 10.1017/S175173111300089X.

Agriculture in the climate change negotiations; ensuring that food production is not threatened.

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Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Climate Change and Bioenergy Policy Division, Grattan Business Centre, Portlaoise, Ireland.


With the human population predicted to reach nine billion by 2050, demand for food is predicted to more than double over this time period, a trend which will lead to increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture. Furthermore, expansion in food production is predicted to occur primarily in the developing world, where adaptation to climate change may be more difficult and opportunities to mitigate emissions limited. In the establishment of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), 'ensuring that food production is not threatened' is explicitly mentioned in the objective of the Convention. However, the focus of negotiations under the Convention has largely been on reducing GHG emissions from energy, and industrial activities and realizing the potential of forestry as a carbon sink. There has been little attention by the UNFCCC to address the challenges and opportunities for the agriculture sector. Since 2006, concerted efforts have been made to raise the prominence of agriculture within the negotiations. The most recent The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report and 'The Emissions Gap Report' by the UNEP highlighted the significant mitigation potential of agriculture, which can help contribute towards keeping global temperature rises below the 2°C limit agreed in Cancun. Agriculture has to be a part of the solution to address climate change, but this will also require a focus on how agriculture systems can adapt to climate change in order to continue to increase food output. However, to effectively realize this potential, systematic and dedicated discussion and decisions within the UNFCCC are needed. UNFCCC discussions on a specific agriculture agenda item started in 2012, but are currently inconclusive. However, Parties are generally in agreement on the importance of agriculture in contributing to food security and employment as well as the need to improve understanding of agriculture and how it can contribute to realizing climate objectives. Discussions on agriculture are continuing with a view to finding an acceptable approach to address the climate change related challenges faced by agriculture worldwide and to ensure that 'food production is not threatened'.

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