Policy and Economic Issues

Policy and economic issues are important attempts to simultaneously address food insecurity, climate change, and reduced SCS. Because these topics are interrelated, they must be addressed holistically using a multidisciplinary approach.

30.1.4.1 Policies and Incentives for Permanent Adoption of Agricultural Carbon Sequestration Practices in Industrialized and Developing Countries

Policies and incentives to trade C can be assessed along two dimensions, namely, policy recommendations and implementation practices. A global cap on C emissions is a major prerequisite for C trading systems to develop. The Kyoto Accord still lacks the signatures of several large nation states, including the United States and Russia. Several major limitations related to the current U.S. policy of voluntary compliance lead to the conclusion that it is probably a nonstarter. The current price of fossil fuel energy does not represent its full opportunity cost if C emissions and sequestration are not considered. Furthermore, C markets may not fully capture secondary costs. For example, the destruction of forests reduces C sequestration, but it may also increase downstream flooding, reducing wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and accelerating the depletion of underground aquifers.

Several major implications of C trading exist. For example, because of spatial variations in distribution impacts of emission reductions, some farmers will benefit from an existing cap on CO2 and trading mechanisms. In fact, distribution impacts are likely to be more important than economic efficiency impacts. Carbon trading has important implications for other GHG emissions as well. However, there is a need to support efforts to reduce GHG emissions. Beginning with reductions in CO2 may help identify financial incentives that permit the evolution of more holistic and sustainable systems.

30.1.4.2 Climate Change, Poverty, and Resource-Friendly Agriculture

A consensus exists regarding the need for changes in traditional agricultural practices that lead to soil degradation, including reductions in soil fertility and carbon content. However, a major challenge faced by practitioners is the need to develop alternative farming systems for resource-poor farmers that enable them to achieve food security and more satisfactory standards of living. This challenge becomes more urgent under conditions of climate change which imply increased negative consequences related to continuation of current nonresource-friendly agricultural practices.

All farmers experience a hierarchy of needs. At the most basic level, poor farmers' primary objective is achieving minimal levels of food security. At the following level, they are concerned about improving the standard of living for themselves and their families. Perhaps beyond this level, they are concerned about protecting and improving the natural resource base on which their sustenance depends and on which enhancing its condition in turn depends. This implies the need to identify agricultural production practices that simultaneously improve income levels while contributing to carbon sequestration and other forms of soil and water quality improvement.

These practices may need to be location-specific. Simulation analyses suggest that payments for soil carbon sequestration may be insufficient to balance losses in agricultural production for small- and medium-scale farmers under tropical conditions. On the other hand, alternative production practices hold great promise for increasing small-farm incomes while simultaneously improving soil quality. More experimentation along these lines will be necessary to enable poor small farmers to participate in the process of soil carbon sequestration.

30.1.4.3 Climate Change and Public Policy Challenges

Several current treaties and conventions on climate change and biodiversity will be difficult to implement, and thus, they are unlikely to have much regional or global impact. Changes are needed to improve related existing public policy climate. These include: (1) greater cooperation among the various scientific disciplines; (2) expanded cooperation among new stakeholders; (3) increased funding support for long-term research agendas, such as those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, U.S. National Academy of Science, and U.S. Environment Protection Agency; (4) more policy-relevant applied research; and (5) more analysis of public policy anomalies. Examples of the latter are latent policies that often conflict with official policies and special interest group objectives.

30.1.4.4 Climate Change Impacts on Developing Countries

The implications of climate change for food security in developing countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, such as Mali, may be drastic. Increased price volatility and reduced yields are leading to increased risks of hunger. However, adaptive measures can moderate them. Improved cost data associated with ways that food-insecure nations attempt to alleviate the problem are needed.

30.1.4.5 Climate Change and Tropical

Agriculture: Implications for Social Vulnerability and Food Security

Globalization may impact food security in developing countries. The context for globalization and its impacts on people are frequently neglected. Food security is also related to access to food. Experience has shown that poor people in the tropics benefit less from globalization since these regions are at a comparative disadvantage. Regarding agricultural production, price supports and subsidies are typically lowered as a consequence of global trade policies. Future research on small farms in these regions needs to focus more on integrated small-farm systems, and to give more attention to indicators of instability, food sovereignty and security, local autonomy, and increased investments in appropriate technology.

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