OECD: climate change crisis worsening

GLOBAL CLIMATE RI Farm
n More needed to combat climate change, PICTURE: OECD

THE climate change crisis is worsening and governments need to seize on mounting public concern to raise ambitions on mitigation policies, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says.

Secretary-General Angel Gurría also says there’s an urgent need to overcome political, economic and social barriers to achieving the rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions needed to safeguard the planet’s future.

“While the precise impacts of climate change remain uncertain, the frequency and magnitude of weather-related events are expected to increase, making greater resilience of farm households increasingly important,” Gurría says in a review of OECD countries’ agricultural policies.

At stake for the 53 countries is the US$705 billion a year earned by their agricultural sectors. About three-quarters – or US$528 billion a year – was paid to producers.

Not only this, Gurria says, progress made by many OECD countries in reducing agricultural producer support and in shifting agricultural policies towards less distorting and sometimes more targeted measures has largely stalled.

“While future growth in demand for high-quality food offers opportunities for agriculture and the food industry, challenges for meeting this demand sustainably continue to be significant,” Gurria says.

Productivity growth has fallen and remains below potential in many countries. While progress has been made in several dimensions of agricultural sustainability, such as nutrient balances and emission intensities of greenhouse gases, environmental pressures remain high and some of the positive trends have slowed down.

Climate change and weather-related production shocks are expected to increase the challenge of improving productivity, sustainability, and resilience on farms.

The OECD report recommends gradually dismantling policies generating market price support and the money redirected to improvements in public services benefitting producers, consumers and society.

“Consider all available economic instruments in pursuit of environmental and climate change mitigation and adaptation goals,” Gurria says.

“Existing albeit partial evidence of the environmental performance of agriculture shows that progress in many countries has slowed or even reversed since the mid-2000s.”

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