While the 300+ global climate rallies and marches grabbed the headlines, there was news on food, farming and nature from inside the COP26 climate talks.
The actor, Idris Elba, told a briefing he had been shocked to see people in western countries lining up for food during the Covid-19 pandemic because of shortages caused by a damaged supply chain.
“This conversation around food is something that needs to be really amplified and something I’ve got is a big mouth so that’s what I’m using it for.
“The supply chain [for food] is going to be damaged if we don’t figure out what to do about climate change and what it is doing to our food system
“That image of all those people in LA, with families waiting for food is a reality for us if we don’t find ways to tackle this issue now.”
A UN goodwill ambassador for the International Fund for Agricultural Development, he said work was focussing on small farmers who delivered 80% of the food we ate:
“It’s not obvious to us. But it is obvious to them [farmers] because every year when they put their crops in, the crops are lower, because the rain is different, the soil is different. And one day we’re gonna go to [grocers] Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer’s and the food’s not going to be there,”
Climate crisis is leaving millions hungry
The Ugandan activist, Vanessa Nakate, said climate change had already made food shortages an “existential threat”.
“The climate crisis is leaving millions of people hungry because there is no food,”
She said Arica was responsible for only 3% of global emissions but had suffering some of the most brutal impacts of the climate crisis.
“Climate change has disrupted weather patterns in countries like mine, causing shorter and heavier rainy seasons plus longer dry seasons. Farms are being washed away by heavy rains, destroying crops. Crops are getting burned in intense dry seasons.”
Pledges to protect nature
45 countries, led by the UK, pledged to shift to more sustainable forms of farming to try to protect nature.
The UK government said:
“Urgent action on land use is needed as demand for food increases. We are currently losing forests, damaging soils and rapidly destroying other ecosystems that play a critical role in absorbing carbon and cooling the planet. Farmers’ livelihoods are also under increasing pressure as climate change impacts on productivity. To help farmers adapt and to make our food system more resilient for the future, more sustainable practices are essential.2
More than nUS$4bn of new public sector investment will be leveraged for agricultural innovation, including development of climate resilient crops and measures to improve soil health. The funding will make the techniques available to hundreds of millions of farmers.
16 countries will launch a policy action agenda, which outline steps that governments, farmers and others can take to deliver sustainable food systems.
The UK will launch a £500m package to help to protect five million hectares of rainforest from defoestration.
Progress on talks
The COP26 president, Alok Sharma, welcomed the passage by the US congress of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. He says he hopes it will provide momentum for climate talks in Glasgow.
He said negotiations on issues such as empowerment, gender, national adaptation plans had been closed off. A range of issues, including finance, would be referred to ministers next week.