agroforst 1199



Naturland on the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris

The conversion of agriculture to organic must constitute an essential element of any policies adopted to combat climate change. “Conventional agriculture and excessive meat consumption are responsible for over one quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. For decades now, organic agriculture the world over has proven successfully that this need not be the case,” said Hans Hohenester, an organic farmer and chairman of the board of the Naturland association at its head office in Gräfelfing, Germany, in reference to the UN Climate Change Conference to take place shortly in Paris.
“If we at last were to exploit this potential earnestly, our choice of farming methods could make a significant contribution to achieving the targets set for climate protection,” he added. He called for the German government finally to take active measures towards achieving the target of at least 20% organic agriculture long ago laid down within the framework of the German sustainability strategy, and to insist that this target be met.
On the basis of the facts known so far, Africa, southern Asia and Latin America will be the regions worst hit by climate change. The rural population in these regions, people who can be held the least accountable for climate change, are already suffering from its consequences, such as extreme flooding, tornados and droughts.
The facts:
According to the global report “Agriculture at a Crossroads”, farming produces 14% of global greenhouse gases in the form of animal husbandry, fertilisers and energy consumption. Were the clearing of primeval forests for the cultivation of fodder to be added, the figure would be as much as 30%. Organic agriculture has a much better record than conventional agriculture, as proven in countless scientific studies.
Organic farmers avoid the use of mineral nitrogen fertilisers; huge amounts of fossil fuels are required in their production and greenhouse gases released in the process. Instead, the fertility of the soil is enhanced by cultivating what are known as legumes which absorb atmospheric nitrogen, thus enriching the soil. By making a determined effort to produce humus, organically managed arable land can, moreover, sequester CO2 in the soil for long periods. Healthy soils are less susceptible to erosion and hold water better, which makes them more suitable to meet the challenges posed by climate change, such as periods of extreme aridity.
In the case of organic agriculture, animal husbandry is directly linked to the area of farmland available. Organic farmers have less livestock, thus avoiding over-fertilisation of the soil and in consequence emitting fewer greenhouse gases. This can, however, only work if consumers in the global north eat less meat, and, where they do, insist on better, organic quality.