International Policies

The proposals presented here have to be supported by progressive international climate policy. The Fourth Assessment Report of Working Group III of the IPCC made it very clear that agriculture is the sector most sensitive to carbon pricing policies. Consequently, an agreement to globally tax GHG, or to establish a global carbon emission trading scheme, would be the best way to support local and organic agriculture solutions. Such a clear price signal would – in conjunction with the policies presented before – transform markets and mean a breakthrough for sustainable agriculture.

An innovative way to price the costs of GHG emissions in the food sector was proposed by Franz-Theo Gottwald and Franz Fischler in their book “Ernährung sichern weltweit – Ökosoziale Gestaltungsprinzipien”: the introduction of trade tariffs for agricultural produce equivalent to the external costs of transport, conversion into farmland and emission of greenhouse gases from food production and distribution. Countries that introduced appropriate national food policies would benefit from reduced trade tariffs. Such a policy would be a significant step towards preventing environmentally unsustainable patterns of food trade. Gottwald and Fischer acknowledge that such an international food trade policy would be difficult to implement in the short term, but that such proposals would be a useful stimulus for national and international policy debates.

Moreover, under the policies of the Kyoto Protocol, developed ‘high emission’ countries agreed to reduce their total GHG emissions but they could also choose to fund climate-friendly projects in developing countries. The ‘Clean Development Mechanism’ enabled developing countries to participate in global agreements and to access funds to help them introduce sustainable technologies into their economic development. The successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol should extend such arrangements to bio-sequestration projects – with the explicit exception of ‘Round Up Ready’ GMO crops – for both local and global benefit.