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The UN Framework convention on Climate Change will take place in Paris from 30 November to 11 December. This highly anticipated meeting will see over 196 countries represented, with 50,000 delegates and observers attending over a two week period.

The purpose of the meeting is to approve a global climate change agreement to limit temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100. This is necessary to prevent dangerous climate change according to credible experts.

In the lead-up to the Paris Summit, individual countries and regions have submitted to the UN so-called ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’ (INDC’s).

The EU will represent Ireland at the Paris Summit, with the EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Canete from Spain expected to lead the negotiations on behalf of the 28 Member States of the EU. The French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius will chair the overall meeting.

The EU’s INDC is a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. Regardless of the outcome in Paris, a legislative package to implement the EU’s 2030 commitments on climate change will follow in 2016. This will include legislation for the non-traded economic sectors including agriculture. Of critical importance for Irish agriculture will be the inclusion of land use, land use change and forestry within this impending legislation.

Draft Negotiating Text

A 20 page draft agreement for Paris was discussed at a preparatory meeting held in Bonn, Germany over five days in late October. The draft agreement included little in relation to agriculture and food production, with a brief reference to food security in the context of climate change having an adverse impact on food production, particularly in developing countries.

Another key aspect of the Paris Summit is climate finance, with developed nations providing aid to developing nations to assist with adaptation to climate change. It is expected that a climate finance package in excess of $100 billion will be negotiated, in addition to a $10.2 billion Green Climate Fund to support technology, development and transfer.

It is still uncertain whether a comprehensive, global agreement on climate change will be reached in Paris. That said, the signals are relatively positive with major nations such as China and the US more actively involved in the process than on previous occasions.

Farmer’s Day

A wide range of side events, seminars and exhibitions focused on agriculture known as ‘Farmer’s Day’ will take place at the margins of the Paris Summit on 02 December. The objective is to raise awareness of the critical role of agriculture in the context of the climate change negotiations.

ICOS National Conference

Climate change was a key item of discussion at the ICOS National Conference held recently in the Convention Centre, Dublin. Guest speakers on this topic included the Economist John Fitzgerald, Chairman of the Climate Change Advisory Council to the Irish Government, Tom Arnold, Director of the IIEA, Harold Kingston from the IFA and John Muldowney from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

A wide ranging discussion touched upon several important points including the unique role of agriculture in terms of its contribution to climate change but also it’s potential to act as a carbon sink, the issue of global food security in the context of a growing global population and the importance of optimising efficiencies at farm level as a means to reduce carbon emissions but also to increase farm profitability.

 

By Eamonn Farrell

Agri & Food Policy Executive