Africans demand real climate action

by No-REDD Africa, No Vox Togo, Oilwatch Africa and GRAIN | 6 Nov 2017


The “Real Forest Rally” march was organised in Durban, South Africa, as part of the Society Alternative Programme 2015: People’s alternative to the U.N.’s World Forestry Congress 2015. Photo: Yeshica Weerasekera / Thousand Currents.

Morocco will hand the presidency over to Fiji at the Conference of Parties (COP23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change taking place in Bonn, Germany.

Morocco, which has shown its green credentials by offering energy 'solutions' to fight against climate change and position itself across the African continent as a major dealer in fertilizers, will give the stage to a country that is undoubtedly very vulnerable to the extreme consequences of global warming.

COP23 will involve many fine words, including many outpourings of faith in multilateral processes. Concrete action, however, will be missing because, like the United States, which takes two steps forward and six steps back, the other countries involved will continue to offer inconsequential, nationally-determined contributions that amount to little in the face of the looming climate catastrophe.

Although climate change is real and impacting the lives of thousands of Africans, multinationals (especially those in the food and energy sectors) have transformed it into a business domain, a playground and source of profit.

Fertilizer company OCP (Office Chérifien des Phosphates), the world leader in phosphates, has become increasingly active on the African Continent since COP 22 in Morocco, selling its fertilizers to African farmers as a solution to climate change, to ‘support small African agricultural producers’. The services it provides are as follows: soil fertility mapping, advice on phosphate fertilizer techniques by region and by crop, and agricultural technicians and advisers across Africa.

The expectations of companies like OCP, which are not those of the small farmers in Africa, are unfortunately those which are echoed favorably by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the body that facilitates and coordinates climate negotiations on an international level.

The solutions this convention proposes, which are of course false solutions, continue to be propagated without any real positive impact on the lives of the communities.

In addition, REDD+, which does not challenge ongoing greenhouse gas emissions, provides a cover for continued production and consumption of fossil fuels, claiming that the resulting pollution is absorbed by trees, so increasing pollution poses no problems. We see peasant agriculture being presented and demonized as the main cause of deforestation, whereas the industrial agriculture sector is, in fact, responsible. Furthermore, REDD+ is already resulting in landgrabs and grave human rights violations around the world.

Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) might seem like a promising concept. However, in reality, it is simply a guise for carbon offsetting using soil, which distorts farming into a sponge for pollution to be used for dubious ends. With the backing of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, the World Bank and the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA), as well as the world’s largest agribusiness and food corporations, this form of agriculture is ‘smart’ not in an ecological sense, but rather in a technological and financial one.

GACSA includes Norwegian firm Yara and US firm Mosaic, and 60 % of members come from the private sector.

Despite its aims, it will not solve the climate crisis for a number of reasons. For example, it promotes industrial agriculture, which leads to an increase in greenhouse gases; it promotes monocultures that kill biodiversity; and it promotes the use of fertilizers and intensive livestock farming, which is a huge source of emissions, due to changes in land use.

The AAA (Adaptation of African Agriculture) initiated by Morocco at COP22 with the support of 25 African countries will not solve the climate crisis. The Chairman of the Group of Least Developed Countries, Tosi Mpanu Mpanu stated, “Take the famous AAA initiative launched by Morocco which aims to increase production per hectare ... the country has an “Office Chérifien des Phosphates” (Kingdom Office of Phosphates). Are its aims to develop Africa or export its fertilizers? Nothing is done innocently.”

If we are to save the climate, there must be radical change in our methods of production and consumption. We must reduce the consumption of meat and dairy products from industrial sources. The problem is not being caused by small farmers and herders whose agroecological practices actually help reduce global warming. On the contrary, it is the industrial food system, which grows crops mostly for energy production and animal feed, that is the root of the problem.

We must put an end to the subsidization of meat and milk from the countries in the North. Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) such as the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), which result in increased imports of meat and other products into our local markets, must be stopped. These products, which are increasingly flooding African markets while benefiting from subsidies and other mechanisms of these Free Trade Agreements, have a high carbon footprint.

The Global Convergence of Struggles for land and water in Africa must serve to amplify this voice. The stakes are too high for this issue to remain in the hands of the industrial actors within the livestock and agricultural sector. Social movements have been articulating this problem and must extend the mobilization of support for production systems favorable to small farmers, fishers and nomadic pastoralists.

While fossil-fuel dependence constitutes a significant cause of climate change, we must not lose sight of contributions from the global food system. It has been clearly established that between 44 percent and 57 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from the global food system and more specifically from deforestation, food transportation, agriculture, food processing, packaging, freezing and food waste. This is a huge number and must be curbed.

The climate crisis will continue to worsen if agribusiness is allowed to continue. If nothing is done to put peasant agroecology at the heart of the climate debate, we will continue to promote false solutions and global warming will continue to grow more severe. Agreements such as the Paris Agreement will not change anything. To create real solutions, actors attempting to tackle the polluting practices of the energy and food sectors must come together. It is only when those efforts converge that we can face Africa’s climate crisis head on.

Source: This is Africa


Author: No-REDD Africa, No Vox Togo, Oilwatch Africa and GRAIN
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