Climate change on top of the global agenda – what about the solutions?

What happened during the last six months?

The heightened awareness of the impact of climate change is also reflected in recent publications and statements of leading institutions in both science and business. In their recent report, Climate risk and response: Physical hazards and socioeconomic impacts, the McKinsey Global Institute predicts that “Socioeconomic impacts will likely be nonlinear and have knock-on effects”, also explicitly affecting our food system in particular. Equally alarming, the World Economic Forum announced its annual Global Risk Report stating that in 2020 the top five global risks in terms of likelihood AND severity of impact are environmental risks. In the meantime, a leading financial institution introduces the term ‚green swan‘. This stresses the increasingly dominant role that extreme weather events, failure in the realm of climate change mitigation and adaptation, natural and human-made disasters as well as biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse play in the global economy.

One day earlier, BlackRock’s founder and CEO said that „Climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects“. This is a spectacular statement. All these considerations and warnings were a main focus of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos. As Bloomberg News put it: „A Sense of Climate Urgency Takes Hold in Davos“

Talking about solutions: Carbon farming and organic agriculture 

It is good news that climate change and its impacts have finally made it to the very top of the global business agenda. In the agriculture and food sector, perhaps due to its strong and direct dependence on a predictable environment, climate change mitigation and adaptation have been the subject of active debate for a number of years. Solutions that agriculture can provide to mitigate climate change are already being implemented. However, their implementation is currently limited to private initiatives and has not yet reached a scale where its full potential is demonstrated.

One of these solutions is carbon farming, a term describing a collection of farming practices that sequester carbon in soil and woody perennial biomass. Farmers do this for increasing their farm’s resilience and also for obtaining carbon credits.  There are solutions with and without certification. Farm-based carbon offsetting schemes can be found across the globe, for example in Australia and Northwestern Europe. The so-called Insetting is a special form of carbon farming where downstream supply chain emissions are neutralized at the product’s farm origin, or with other local farms, for example in Germany.

In the organic and regenerative agriculture sector, such carbon farming initiatives are kindling more and more interest. In February 2020, the organic farming community will come together in their annual meeting, the Biofach fair in Nuremberg, and talk about climate change, risks and opportunities, such as in a special session on carbon credits in organic agriculture.

In our view, farmers who are implementing climate friendly practices should be rewarded for their efforts and their investments into our shared natural capital base –in policy (subsidies of the EU CAP) and in business (as suppliers of food companies). This would be an appropriate response to the widely felt ‘sense of climate urgency”. It is time.