Poznan, Poland, is the site of this year’s annual UN climate change meeting, and government delegations, scientists, and civil society representatives are in the Polish city this week and next to hash out an agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol. Two areas where the Poznan delegates could do better than their colleagues in Kyoto did over a decade ago are agriculture and forests. Slowly, even steadily, these issues are making their way onto the global climate agenda–late, but better than never. The New York Times has a very good piece today about the significant role of livestock production in global warming and what might be done in Poznan and after. Written by M.D. journalist Elisabeth Rosenthal, the story appeared on the Times‘ front page (below the fold, but still, this indicates that quality beloved by policy wonks and pollsters, salience of the issue). “I’m not sure that the system we have for livestock can be sustainable,” Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, head of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, tells Rosenthal.
Also on the Poznan agenda is crafting an agreement on new protections, and payments, for the world’s intact forests–key players in capturing and storing massive quantities of warming-inducing carbon dioxide. More on that soon (Brighter Green colleague and Nobel Peace laureate Wangari Maathai will be in Poznan next week and she’ll have a lot to say about standing forests). But for now, some good news from Brazil, timed for Poznan: a government plan to cut deforestation in the Amazon by 70 percent over the next 10 years. Of course, forests and agriculture are linked, as Rosenthal documents: much of the Amazon has been lost to cattle operations and massive plantations of soy, most of which goes to feed farmed animals. (Quick sidenote: Brazilian soy baron and Mato Grosso state governor, Blairo Maggi, is speaking today on “agribusiness and sustainability” at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. Irony intended?)