Last week Craig Sams (Soil Association Chair and co-founder of Whole Earth Foods and Green & Blacks chocolate) told us how he thinks a worldwide transition to organic farming could help us reduce carbon in the atmosphere by half the amount that we need to in order to stabilise climate change. This week we speak to two independent experts to examine these claims:
- Peter Smith, Professor of Soils & Global Change, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen; and lead author on the UN IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report chapter on agriculture’s role in climate change mitigation
- Phil Metcalfe – organics expert at ADAS who co-authored “Energy use in organic farming systems” (DEFRA, 2000)
At the end of the programme we make our own assessment of the evidence and issues. We would be interested to know if you agree or disagree.
Soil Association Chair, Craig Sams, has been making some extraordinary claims. He calculates that a worldwide transition to organic farming could help us reduce carbon in the atmosphere by half the amount that we need to in order to stabilise climate change. Sams – who is also the founder of Whole Earth Foods and Green & Blacks Chocolate – sees carbon pricing as a way of making this transition possible.
Next week we hope to get a couple of independent experts to examine these claims and their implications.
The second of two programmes comprising our coverage of the RSA’s “No Way Back?” conference on arts and ecology.
- Stewart Wallis, executive director, New Economics Foundation
- Max Andrews, editor, “Land, Art: A Cultural Ecology Handbook” (published by RSA, distributed by Cornerhouse)
When Nicholas Stern describes climate change as the biggest market failure ever, he is effectively admitting that our current economic system – which does not place a value on environmental or social costs – has been responsible for our failure to act sufficiently to combat climate change.
The New Economics Foundation has been arguing for over 20 years that our economic thinking is outdated. The strength of their arguments has grown as our present economic system reaches its limits and leads us towards collapse. NEF’s arguments are now unavoidable. Stewart Wallis explains why we need to replace GDP with Well Being as the goal of our economic system if we are to make the transition to a sustainable society.
A major new book was launched at the “No Way Back?” conference. “Land, Art: A Cultural Ecology Handbook” traces the often hidden set of diverse artistic practices that, from Land Art in the 1970s onwards, have explored themes relating to the land and the environment. We spoke to the editor of this beautifully designed, thought-provoking anthology, Max Andrews, about some of the issues it raises.
The first of two programmes featuring interviews with speakers featured at the RSA “No Way Back?” conference on arts and ecology.
We had the good fortune to speak to:
Professor John Schellnhuber – chief advisor to the German government on climate change
- What does he regard as a responsible level of global mean temperature rise?
- What level of greenhouse concentration in the atmosphere does he suggest we aim to stabilise at?
- If 550ppmv is dangerous and likely to lead to amplifying feedbacks, why is the UK government keeping this outdated target?
- What will be the chief messages he will be giving to the German government over the coming critical year?
Ed Gillespie, Creative Director, Futerra Sustainability Communications
- What is the current public understanding of climate change?
- How do we communicate for behaviour change?
- Around the World in 80 Ways – Ed’s globe trotting project which explores the joys of travelling without flying
and James Mariott – co-founder, Platform
- London as an oil city
- Dismantling the network of institutions that comprise the Carbon Web
- “And While London Burns” – Platform’s new operatic soundwalk around the fossil fuel institutions of the City of London
EMISSIONS TRADING IN EUROPE
After last week’s interview with Soumitra Ghosh on the negative impacts of CDM projects in India, we conclude our look at carbon trading by speaking to the director of Climate Action Newtwork Europe, Matthias Duwe.
– What are Europe’s environmental NGOs doing to help reform the CDM?
– What is their view on the effectiveness of EU Emissions Trading Scheme as a way of cutting our greenhouse gas output?
CARBON TRADING – ARE WE BEING CONNED?
Even though the United States administration decided not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the US left the treaty with a legacy of market-based “flexible mechanisms”.
In 2001 Mark Lynas wrote in The Guardian that these flexible mechanisms would lead to a net increase in emissions from industrialised countries, rather than a reduction of 5.2%.
As Larry Lohman’s authoritative critique on carbon traiding is published (see link below), The Two Degrees Show examines the record so far of the projects that are being funded under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism.
We speak to Soumitra Ghosh in West Bengal who has been documenting the impact of CDM projects in India. He found that projects are dispossessing people from their land, lowering water tables, and polluting water and air – resulting in lower crop yields and ill health.
We also speak to Kevin Smith of Carbon Trade Watch and ask whether the CDM is beyond reform and, if so, what should be done instead.
The Two Degress Show takes a flashback to August and the Camp for Climate Action which initiated high-profile direct action against Drax – the UK’s biggest single point source emitter of carbon dioxide and Europe’s biggest coal-fired power station. The Camp also involved over 150 workshops covering everything from peak oil to permaculture.
The programme features three interviews with people who played a lead role in establishing the camp as low-impact event in terms of energy (virtually all power supplied by renewable sources), food (vegan, locally-sourced), sewage (waste returned to local farmers as a fertilising resource) and waste water (made safe for returning to the land using a grey water system).
We assess the outcomes of the talks and illustrate it with audio from the talks and press conferences in Nairobi:
- If we haven’t seen anything like the degree of urgency this situation demands then what can explain the frustrating lack of progress?
- Is the EU holding out for a global deal that includes developing countries in order to get the US back on board (as indicated in its 2005 position paper), rather than leading by example by with a commitment to 30% cuts by 2020?
- What is the potential for movement in the US position now that there is a new balance of power in Congress?
- Can the democrats get some of the ‘cap and trade’ legislation through that is on the table and start engaging constructively in the international process?
- Did the talks make significant progress in helping the poorest and most vulnerable countries adapt to the effects of climate change or make significant progress in meeting the commitment to transfer clean energy technologies to developing countries?
Halfway through the UN climate talks in Nairobi we offer you an assessment of where things are at by presenting what the alliance of environmental charities and the UN Secretariat have been saying in their press conferences over the last few days.
The two main spokespeople you will hear are:
Steve Sawyer who works for Greenpeace in the United States and is also the main spokesman for the Climate Action Network International – the umbrella group for the hundreds of non-government organisations who are trying to positively influence the talks.
Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat
- Will the Review of the Protocol be completed in time for it to take effect in 2012?
- What role should developing countries be playing in future commitment periods?
- Are the EU playing a leadership role and commiting to 30% CO2 cuts by 2020?
- Have the countries with commitments under the Kyoto Protocol made “demonstrable progress” in meeting their targets?
- With the Democrats now in control of Congress, when will the US start to re-engage?