Organic farming can make a significant contribution to climate protection. Earlier comparative studies have shown that in most cases organic farming has a positive climate impact compared to non-organic agriculture. However, the conclusions derived from such individual studies are of limited value. The potential of organic farming could thus not yet be considered in the international climate negotiations.
FiBL therefore brought together all available studies in a meta-analysis. More than 70 international comparative studies on soil carbon sequestration and 20 comparative studies on nitrous oxide emissions were evaluated. “On average, organically managed soils sequester more carbon dioxide and emit less nitrous oxide than soils under non-organic management,” FiBL expert Andreas Gattinger summarized the results.
Methodologies are needed which can account for the climate benefit of a change in management in order for agricultural climate projects to be registered and be allocated carbon credits. FiBL team member Adrian Müller has developed such a methodology using the example of sugar cane production. In contrast to many of their non-organic colleagues, organic sugar cane growers do not engage in pre-harvest burning of the leaves but they use these to mulch the soil. Dr. Müller, together with the South Pole Carbon Asset Management Ltd. company, has developed this latter measure into a methodology for the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and submitted it to the relevant UN body, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC in short.
In the concluding panel discussion the conference participants discussed the possibilities and limits of the farming sector in the carbon markets. One of the concerns for example is that non-organic farming enterprises might be able to sell mere cosmetic measures as climate services. Moreover, it was said that agricultural systems are too complex and their climate impact is difficult to ascertain. The participants agreed that as a result of the CaLas project, the organic farming sector was now well armed with facts and figures for the ongoing debate and put it in a better position to ensure that only truly climate-friendly land use practices would be supported.
An English language video about the conference is available online, containing statements by Pete Smith, University of Aberdeen, Ulrich Hofmann, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Nina Buchmann, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, and others.
The CaLas project is funded by the Mercator Foundation Switzerland.
- fibl.org: CaLas project
- youtube.com: CaLas project: Carbon Credits for Sustainable Land Use Systems (Dec 2011)
- fibl.org: Theme pages on Organic Farming and Climate Change
- fibl.org: Links related to climate change and agriculture
- orgprints.org: FiBL publications on climate change and agriculture
Program Final Congress
Thursday, December 15, 2011, 09.30 – 17.30
|09.30||Welcome and opening address||Urs Niggli|
|09.40||The CaLas project and the vision of sustainable agriculture||Albert Kesseli |
Mercator Foundation Switzerland
|10.00||Enhancing eco-functional intensification of agriculture for dealing with climate hotspots||Ulrich Hoffmann|
|Session I||Scientific background on agricultural land use and climate change||Andreas Fliessbach|
|10.45||Keynote lecture: Carbon sequestration in agricultural soils – a global perspective||Pete Smith |
University of Aberdeen
|11.30||Keynote lecture: Greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural soils – a global perspective||Werner Eugster |
|12.15||Carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions in organically managed soils – results from the CaLas project||Andreas Gattinger |
|Session II||Quantification, mitigation certificates and methodology development||Matthias Stolze|
|14.00||The Swiss inventory of agricultural greenhouse gases||Daniel Bretscher |
Agroscope ART Zürich
|14.45||Agriculture and the carbon market||Patrick Horka |
South Pole Carbon
|15.15||Development of carbon-offset methodologies based on sustainable land use practices – results from the CaLas project||Adrian Müller|
|Session III||Synthesis of the CaLas project||Jacqueline Forster|
|16.30||Panel discussion with the speakers|
|17.15||Concluding remarks and future perspectives||Urs Niggli|
|17.30||End of the meeting: Apéro/Get together (optional)|