Bishwa Bhaskar Choudhary
LAND use and food production systems are a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the world, adversely affecting climate and the pursuit of all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the same time, the agriculture sector is becoming increasingly vulnerable to climate change. Scientific consensus on the threat of climate change to food security is growing worldwide and the evidence is more prominent in developing countries: rising temperatures, heatwaves, droughts and floods, changes in rainfall patterns and other extreme events affect agriculture more than any other sector.
With a sizeable population of India and the rest of the world directly dependent on agriculture, it is time to make agri-food systems more efficient, inclusive, sustainable and climate-smart. We need to harness the power of innovation and digitalisation to build adaptation capacity and resilience, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture at a faster rate. Finance flows in the farm sector need to reflect the importance that developing countries assign to climate adaptation in this sector.
A UN climate change report claims that while the emissions are reducing, they are not going down fast enough to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C by the end of the century in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement goal. And if the world is unable to achieve this, the impact of climate change will only get worse and more frequent.
While agri-food systems contribute to and are affected by the impact of the climate crisis, they are also part of the solution. Agriculture and food security issues featured prominently in the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Egypt in November last year. A new initiative, Food and Agriculture for Sustainable Transformation (FAST), was launched. FAST is a multi-stakeholder programme that aims to step up finance to transform agriculture as well as contribute to adaptation efforts and pursue the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C global warming limit while supporting economic and food security.
The creation of the Loss and Damage Fund (LDF) at COP27 is being seen as a hard-fought win for the world’s developing countries, including India. The purpose of LDF is to provide immediate financial support to vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters. The establishment of LDF has met a long-running demand by developing countries. However, the path ahead to activate this fund, particularly in agriculture, would not be easy.
The foremost question is: Will the rich countries fulfil their climate financing promises? We should not forget that 12 years ago, at COP15, rich nations made a significant pledge to channel $100 billion a year to other nations by 2020 to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate further rises in temperature. That promise has not yet been met.
As per a report of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in 2020, the initial target year of the $100-billion goal, total climate finance provided and mobilised by developed countries amounted to $83.3 billion. Some analysts claim that the OECD’s numbers are inflated. International-aid charity Oxfam estimated public climate financing at only $19-22.5 billion in 2017-18, around one-third of the OECD’s estimate. In 2015, India’s Finance Ministry disputed the OECD’s estimate of $62 billion of climate finance in 2014, saying that the real figure was $1 billion. Multiple analyses of a notional fair share for these payments reach the same conclusion: the US has not paid enough in climate finance to developing nations and always fallen well short, considering the size of its economy. The recent report from World Resources Institute reckoned that the US should contribute 40-47% of the $100 billion, but its average annual contribution from 2016 to 2018 was only around $7.6 billion.
The agriculture sector continues to receive only a modest share of international climate finance, and it has proportionally decreased. Current flows of public international climate finance do not coincide with the priorities that developing countries have specified in their Nationally Determined Contributions. From an average of 45 per cent at the beginning of the millennium, the total finance flows in the agriculture and land-use sector reduced to 24 per cent in 2013. Between 2016 and 2020, the share of global climate finance in agriculture, forestry and fishing was only 9 per cent.
With a sizeable population of the world directly dependent on agriculture, it is time to make agri-food systems more efficient, inclusive, sustainable and climate-smart. We need to harness the power of innovation and digitalisation to build adaptation capacity and resilience, while reducing GHG emissions from agriculture at a faster rate. Therefore, there is a need to invest more in adaptation and nature, including in ecosystem conservation and restoration. Finance flows in the agriculture sector need to reflect the importance that developing countries assign to climate adaptation in this sector.
The G20 presidency is expected to enable India to convince the world to step up climate finance flows from LDF towards the agriculture sector, which is both a sufferer and a cause of climate change.
The author is an agricultural economist at ICAR-Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute, Jhansi. Views are personal
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