This December in Paris, France will play host to the COP21 international climate change conference, with a goal of limiting an increase in global average temperature to below 1.5° or 2°C. Agriculture will play a big role in this fight against global climate change, and France is leading the way with innovative proposals to use the resources of agriculture to help in that fight.
Most notably, France’s proposed 4 per 1000 Initiative aims to use the soil as a way to sequester carbon released into the atmosphere, effectively taking that carbon out of the global climate change equation.
Here’s a brief run-down of how the initiative works: The quantity of carbon released into the atmosphere increases by 4.3 billion tons every year, and the world’s soils contain 1.5 trillion tons of carbon in the form of organic material. If we increase by 0.4% the quantity of carbon stored in the soils, we can halt the annual increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, which is a major contributor to climate change.
There are a variety of ways that this increase in soil carbon sequestration can be reached. Never leaving soil bare and working it less, using no-till methods, for example, can increase carbon stored in the ground. So can the introduction of more intermediate crops, more row intercropping and more grass strips. Other ways include adding hedges to field boundaries, developing agroforestry, optimizing pasture management and restoring land in poor condition.
“This international initiative can reconcile the aims of food security and combat against climate change and therefore engage every concerned country in COP21,” said Stéphane Le Foll, French Minister of Agriculture, Agrifood and Forestry.
Find out more by watching these videos explaining the 4 per 1000 Initiative:
Soils for food security and the climate
Le programme de recherche « 4 pour 1 000 » a pour objectif de réconcilier sécurité alimentaire et CHANGEMENT CLIMATIQUE . Certaines pratiques agricoles peuvent contribuer à lutter contre le changement du climat en stockant le CARBONE dans les sols. Et cela tout en augmentant la fertilité des sols, le CARBONE des sols étant un fertilisant organique. Selon Jean-François Soussana, directeur de recherche Environnement à l’Inra « Une augmentation relative de 4 pour 1 000 par an des stocks de matière organique des sols suffirait à compenser l’ensemble des émissions de gaz à effet de serre de la planète. »
France is also promoting several other agriculture-related projects as part of its climate change agenda. A reduction in food waste is an important part of this. Wasted food represents carbon emissions that were released without reason, so any reduction in food waste will help to reduce climate change. The promotion of agroecology in French agricultural education is also an important priority.
All of these initiatives and actions show that France is taking its role seriously in setting an example by using agriculture as a tool in its fight against climate change.
Check out this video of a conference held at the French Embassy on food security and climate change:
For more information:
The Climate-Smart Agriculture Conference 2015 Comes to Montpellier, France
French Agricultural Minister Visits the US
4 per 1000: a New Program for Carbon Sequestration in Agriculture
To find out more about the project and to get involved in supporting it, check out the following document that presents the project with key facts and figures and provides ways to help: